Eric Haase’s bat, Tarik Skubal’s arm guide Detroit Tigers to 4-3 win over White Sox

Detroit Free Press

While Detroit Tigers starter Tarik Skubal pitched aggressively through five innings, Eric Haase stole the spotlight.

Haase homered twice in a game for the third time this season and carried the Tigers (24-34) to a 4-3 victory Saturday against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Entering Saturday, the Tigers had lost 13 of their past 14 games to the White Sox.

“We know the White Sox are always going to be a thorn in our side,” Haase said after Friday’s 9-8 loss on a walk-off single. “They’re going to be that team that doesn’t go away, that continues to put on pressure. I feel like we can be that exact same team.”

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The White Sox scored two runs in the sixth off reliever Derek Holland, cutting the Tigers’ lead to one run. But right-hander Kyle Funkhouser cleaned up the mess. He also pitched a scoreless seventh inning, which ended with a strikeout and caught stealing by catcher Jake Rogers.

Gregory Soto struck out two in a scoreless eighth inning, and Jose Cisnero picked up the first save of his career with a scoreless ninth.

“Yesterday kind of left a bad taste in our mouth,” Haase said Saturday. “We worked our (expletive) off and came up just a little bit short. For the bullpen to come in and do a fantastic job today, slam the door shut, hold on to that lead, was awesome.”

Haase finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Skubal provided five innings of one-run ball on four hits and three walks, striking out 11. The left-hander threw 72 of 103 pitches for strikes. He registered 20 swings and misses and 17 called strikes.

Skubal posts career-high in K’s

For the first out in the fourth inning, Skubal struck out Andrew Vaughn on four pitches to achieve his eighth strikeout against the White Sox.

He became the 10th pitcher in franchise history with eight-plus strikeouts in at least four consecutive games, joining Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Matthew Boyd, Jack Morris, Hal Newhouser, Mickey Lolich, Denny McLain, Anibal Sanchez and Les Cain.

Scherzer leads the way, producing 10 games in a row with eight-plus strikeouts. He is followed by Boyd (seven consecutive games), Newhouser (seven) and Verlander (twice with six and once with five). Both Morris and McLain reached eight strikeouts in five consecutive games. 

“It’s pretty cool to be mentioned with those guys,” Skubal said. “Those are a lot of really elite pitchers and guys that I grew up watching, too. At the same time, I’m not focused on that. I’m just focused on continuing to get better and building on each start.”

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Of Skubal’s eight outs from the start of the second inning until two outs in the fourth, he produced eight strikeouts. His streak was snapped by Zack Collins, who flied out to center field to end the fourth. At this point, he had nine total strikeouts.

Skubal’s most impressive strikeout came against Jose Abreu with two outs and runners on the corners in the third inning. He sent down Abreu swinging at a 96 mph fastball to strand the runners.

“I don’t think that last (fastball) was even that inside, but just being able to stay firm in that situation,” Skubal said. “And just trust my fastball and let the life play over the plate was a big part of that. The emotions were high. He’s an MVP player. Being able to get out of that inning with a zero was huge.”

Then in the fifth, Skubal struck out Yoan Moncada and got Abreu to fly out to center field, stranding runners on first and second base — both reaching via walks — to conclude his outing.

Chicago scored its only run against Skubal in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Tim Anderson opened the game with a double to left and scored on a single from Nick Madrigal that deflected off shortstop Harold Castro’s glove. Skubal retired the next three batters.

In the fifth inning, Skubal struck out Danny Mendick swinging to set a career high in strikeouts, then he struck out Moncada for his 11th and final strikeout. He previously had nine strikeouts May 19 against the Seattle Mariners, nine strikeouts May 25 against Cleveland and eight strikeouts May 30 against the New York Yankees.

“We love the punch outs, but they also drive the pitch count up,” Hinch said. “You started to see him settle in and be very comfortable with all his pitches. He even came up to me after his outing and was talking about how he felt like he could go deeper.

“But he looks up and he’s at (103) pitches in five innings. Sometimes that’s a strikeout, sometimes that’s long at-bats. A lot of times, it’s just mixing in some non-competitive pitches.”

Hammerin’ Haase (x2)

The White Sox took a 1-0 lead against Skubal in the first inning, but Haase helped his starter pound the strike zone by giving him a 2-1 lead in the second inning. He hammered Chicago starter Lucas Giolito’s changeup for a two-run blast to left-center field.

“When he hits one homer, you might as well stay around for the rest of the game,” Hinch said. “He might (hit) a second one. That’s becoming a trend for him. It’s not normal, but we’ll take it. He’s dangerous hitting. He’s in swing mode from the very beginning.”

Later in the second, the Tigers stranded runners on second and third base. Derek Hill popped out to shortstop and Robbie Grossman struck out swinging. Giolito pitched seven innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. He struck out eight and did not allow a walk.

But Haase continued to rake against Giolito in the fourth inning, belting a slider to left-center field — his seventh home run this season — for a 3-1 lead.

In his past four games, Haase is 6-for-12 with five home runs, seven RBIs, three walks and five strikeouts. He previously had two-homer games May 17 against the Mariners and Tuesday against the Milwaukee Brewers.

“I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity,” Haase said. “I haven’t really done anything different than I’ve been doing in the last couple years in the minor leagues. Just the opportunities weren’t there, and that’s how it shook out. I don’t take this for granted.”

Since 1947, Haase’s three multi-homer contests is tied with Matt Nokes (1987) for the most by a Tiger in a rookie season.

Miggy homers

For the first time since May 21, Miguel Cabrera homered. He tagged Giolito’s fastball in the sixth inning to give the Tigers a 4-1 lead. The ball traveled 410 feet to center field.

The 38-year-old finished 2-for-4 to boost his batting average to .196 in 41 games.

Cabrera’s home run was the 492nd in his MLB career, putting him one away from tying Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff for 28th place on the all-time leaderboard.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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