For the first time since Sept. 16, 2018, the Detroit Tigers have won a series against the Cleveland Indians.
The Tigers entered the three-game clash with 20 consecutive losses to the Indians, and had lost nine in a row overall. They took Game 1 to snap both droughts, but the Indians got the better of them in Game 2.
On Sunday, the Tigers (11-15) chased starter Carlos Carrasco with a three-run fourth inning en route to a 7-4 win and three-game series victory in left-hander Tarik Skubal’s second MLB start. The loss dropped the Indians to 17-11 overall.
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Next up for the Tigers, right-hander Casey Mize will make his own second appearance, this one at Comerica Park on Monday against the Chicago Cubs. He struck out seven in 4⅓ innings in his debut Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox.
Skubal’s second try
Other than a leadoff home run from Cesar Hernandez, Skubal was solid, getting swings-and-misses with his fastball. He produced five strikeouts — four with his fastball — in 2⅓ innings, giving up one run on three hits, one walk and one hit-by-pitch.
He ran up his pitch count with deep battles, but he capitalized by mixing his secondary pitches and getting his opponents to chase high fastballs. His 38 fastballs produced a variety of results: seven swinging strikes, four called strikes and nine foul balls.
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Because of those fouls — and eight more on non-fastballs — , Skubal was forced out in the third inning. He finished with 69 pitches (33 strikes), chipping in 17 sliders, 12 changeups and two curveballs.
He was much more effective than his debut Tuesday, in which he gave up four runs on seven hits, with only one strikeout over two innings.
Goodrum returns in big way
Since his last home run Aug. 14, Goodrum was 2-for-25 with two walks and 11 strikeouts. Manager Ron Gardenhire left him out of Saturday’s lineup because of those struggles, which didn’t please his shortstop.
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“He was pretty frustrated that I didn’t play him yesterday,” Gardenhire said before Sunday’s game. “But he’s good. Niko battles. He puts everything into every day he plays baseball. He gets after he works his tail off. … He was mad at me, that’s fine. I’d rather have a guy like that than another guy that doesn’t give a flip.”
On Sunday, hitting in the No. 5 spot. Goodrum responded with a home run to open the fourth inning. He finished 2-for-3 with one double, one homer and two walks.
The Tigers went on to score three more runs that inning, thanks to a two-run homer by Jorge Bonifacio — his first long ball for the organization since signing this offseason after being released by the Kansas City Royals.
Norris carries bullpen (again)
Left-hander Daniel Norris entered with one out in the third inning to clean up a small mess left by Skubal after a single and error.
Norris only needed three pitches to get out of the jam.
He gave his team 3⅔ scoreless innings, allowing two hits with four strikeouts. Lefty reliever Gregory Soto took over for him in the seventh, followed by Buck Farmer in the eighth and Joe Jimenez in the ninth. After Jimenez gave up a three-run homer to Greg Allen, right-hander Jose Cisnero entered and got the final two outs.
Since Norris moved back to the bullpen after a rough Aug. 2 start, he has been stellar in 11⅓ innings: two runs on six hits and one walk with 11 strikeouts.
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Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content.