CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers lost to the Philadelphia Phillies, 2-0, on Wednesday at BayCare Ballpark, falling to 7-9 in Grapefruit League play.
Left-hander Tarik Skubal started and went three scoreless innings. He allowed one hit and three walks — with six strikeouts — across his 70 pitches (38 strikes). This spring, Skubal has tossed eight scoreless frames with three hits, three walks and 12 strikeouts. Former two-time All-Star Julio Teheran pitched four scoreless innings. He racked up seven strikeouts and only allowed one hit without any walks. His fastball averaged 91.7 mph and reached 92 mph multiple times. Leadoff hitter Robbie Grossman went 2-for-3, but the Tigers only managed five hits.
‘A DIFFERENT PITCHER’: Tigers may have a decision to make on Michael Fulmer
ONE WALK, 11 Ks: Derek Holland impressing in chase to make roster with ‘boxer’s mentality’
Skubal struggled with his command early in the third, walking Jeff Mathis and Roman Quinn to start the inning. He responded by fielding a sacrifice bunt from Scott Kingery — allowing both runners to advance — and striking out Bryce Harper with a nasty 2-2 slider amid an eight-pitch at-bat. Then, he battled with Alec Bohm for seven pitches, getting him to pop out in foul territory to end the inning unscathed. Skubal got swings-and-misses with his four-seamer (four), changeup (two), slider (four) and curveball (four), also recorded strikeouts with all four of these offerings. His fastball averaged 94.4 mph and maxed out at 96.5 mph. Even though Skubal had trouble with his fastball command, it was encouraging to see success from his off-speed pitches.
At the plate
None of the Tigers’ hits were for extra bases. Willi Castro, Renato Nunez and Jonathan Schoop chipped in singles. The Tigers drew two walks, thanks to Isaac Paredes and Dustin Garneau, compared to 11 strikeouts.
FRESH CUTS: Tigers make spring training moves: Christin Stewart, others sent to Triple-A Toledo
On the mound
While Skubal was supposed to throw four innings, he was limited to three because of his pitch count. Right-hander Joe Jimenez entered in the fourth inning, but he couldn’t get three outs. He gave up a solo home run to Odubel Herrera and back-to-back doubles to Darick Hall and Ronald Torreyes for a 2-0 lead. Manager AJ Hinch called on Robbie Ross Jr. to replace Jimenez — he tossed 31 pitches (19 strikes) — with two outs. Teheran pitched the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings. The right-hander effectively pounded the strike zone. He registered seven strikeouts in four scoreless innings and only allowed one hit, a double to Hall.
Paredes (second base), Spencer Torkelson (first base), Ryan Kreidler (third base) and Riley Greene (right field) entered as late-game substitutions. Greene struck out swinging and grounded out; Paredes drew a walk and was hit by a pitch. Torkelson struck out swinging on three curveballs in the ninth inning.
RULE 5 DRAFT PICK: If Akil Baddoo keeps raking, Tigers’ AJ Hinch won’t rule out five outfielders
MLB TROUBLES: Why there’s still belief in aging Tigers prospect ‘fighting for his life’ in baseball
1. Teheran, 2. Skubal, 3. Grossman.
Friday vs. Toronto Blue Jays in Lakeland.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.