Replays ruin Detroit Tigers’ series opener in 5-3 loss to Minnesota Twins

Detroit Free Press
Dana Gauruder |  Special to Detroit Free Press

Tarik Skubal got off to a dazzling start on Thursday but a fielding mistake helped the Minnesota Twins pull out a 5-3 win at Target Field in Minneapolis against the Detroit Tigers.

Second baseman Willi Castro failed to keep his foot on the bag during a routine fielder’s choice in the seventh inning, and it cost the Tigers. The umpire’s out call was upheld on replay after manager AJ Hinch challenged the call, helping Minnesota take the lead during a three-run inning.

Skubal set down the first 13 batters he faced. He gave up solo homers to Ryan Jeffers and Miguel Sano and was charged with five runs (three earned) in six-plus innings.

Eric Haase hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning to lead the Tigers’ offense.

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Skubal gets off to perfect start

Skubal displayed good command of all his pitches in the early going and recorded five strikeouts in the first four innings.

He used his fastball and slider as his strikeout pitches. Trevor Larnach whiffed on a slider and Jeffers went down swinging at a fastball in the second inning.

Max Kepler fanned on a slider and Gilberto Celestino flailed at a fastball on the outside corner in the third.

Josh Donaldson struck out on a foul tip into Jake Rogers’ glove during the fourth.

Skubal’s dominance continued until one out in the fifth, when Jeffers deposited a 96-MPH fastball just over the left field wall for Minnesota’s first hit.

His fastball velocity dropped to 93 mph when Sano flicked his homer over the right-center field wall to begin the Twins’ three-run uprising in the seventh.

Hinch juggles banged-up outfield

The Tigers used a makeshift outfield alignment of Haase in left field, Niko Goodrum in center and Nomar Mazara in right.

Robbie Grossman jammed a finger while sliding into first base on a pickoff attempt in Wednesday’s game against Texas. Manager AJ Hinch also wanted to give a breather to rookie Akil Baddoo, who had been supposed to get a day off in Texas. But Daz Cameron suffered a toe injury prior to Monday’s game and subsequently landed on the injured list.

Detroit’s outfielders had an uneventful night defensively but Haase continued his home run rampage. He blasted his fifth in seven games and 13th of the season off J.A. Happ. Haase turned on an inside fastball and the ball clanged off the foul pole in left field.

Haase contributed a single in the sixth when the Tigers scored their third run.

Cabrera’s dare goes for naught

Miguel Cabrera has been limited to designated hitter duties until the All-Star break due to periodic calf tightness.

That didn’t stop him from trying to advance from first to second on Jeimer Candelario’s fly ball to deep center in the fourth. Cabrera was called safe after apparently beating second baseman Jorge Polanco’s tag.

Cabrera came to his feet smiling and wagging his finger after the play. The Twins challenged the call and it was overturned, even though replays were inconclusive at best.

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