Detroit — The unofficial start of summer is here, Comerica Park capacity restrictions are gone, and the Yankees are swept.
The weekend’s three-game meltdown by New York was a reminder of past playoff poundings, while the young Tigers continued to show promise.
Baseball is slowly inching its way back to life in downtown Detroit, further witnessed by 8,000 fans Sunday in a 6-2 win, the final one before full capacity will be allowed for the Tigers next home game June 8.
Tarik Skubal struck out eight batters in six scoreless innings, becoming the first Tigers rookie to strike out eight or more batters in three consecutive starts.
Meanwhile, Willi Castro continued to break out of a slump with a three-run double to break this one open in the third inning.
The Tigers have won 13 of their last 20 games heading into a six-game road trip this week against Milwaukee and the Chicago White Sox.
After a rough April, Skubal’s May was strong. The 24-year-old struck out 39 batters while issuing nine walks in 27 innings, good for a 3.33 ERA.
Teamed with brilliant recent outings from Casey Mize and Spencer Turnbull — along with two home runs from Spencer Torkelson on Saturday for West Michigan and continued excellence from Riley Greene in Erie — young Tigers are giving reasons for hope.
The beatdown of the Bronx Bombers wasn’t the only reason to reminisce, as Miguel Cabrera ran through an early stop sign on the base paths.
But Tigers fans could smile this time, as Cabrera scored from first base on a two-run Nomar Mazara double to make it 2-0 in the first.
Castro’s double down the third-base line capped the four-run third inning to make it 6-0.
Detroit had chances to put it away, but Cabrera and Eric Haase stranded the bases loaded in the second and sixth innings, respectively.
And how a little bullpen fragility for a trip down memory lane?
Bryan Garcia allowed a New York run in the eighth inning and then was relieved by Michael Fulmer.
With two outs and two on, Gary Sanchez plated Aaron Judge on a grounder to shortstop. Rookie shortstop Zack Short’s throw got past Jonathan Schoop, but Sanchez was thrown out at second trying to advance.
The impressive collection of Yankees fans in attendance groaned as Sanchez quickly realized he was toast. The lead was down to 6-2 but a full-blown meltdown was averted by the Yankees miscue, a familiar theme of the weekend.
Then, in the ninth, Fulmer allowed hits to the first two batters, set down the next two, but walked Giancarlo Stanton to load the bases.
The powerful Judge represented the tying run, but Fulmer got him to watch a third strike at 1-2 for the win.
Cue Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” and good times didn’t seem as far away as a month before.
Yankee Stadium fans will be ready to boo its confounding team this week against Tampa Bay, the American League’s defending champions and its best team.
Meanwhile, the fans will be allowed to show up in full force now at Comerica Park.
Stringing together more settings like Sunday — with the sun shining, the Yankees floundering and prospects starting to figure out the big leagues — would surely start to bring back some starving sports fans.
Matt Schoch writes for PlayMichigan.com and also freelances for The Detroit News.