Detroit Tigers’ Tarik Skubal allows three home runs in 4-3 loss to Baltimore Orioles

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers rookie Tarik Skubal just couldn’t escape the home runs.

The Baltimore Orioles picked up their third hit in the fifth inning — and their third home run — as Skubal gave up solo shots in the third, fourth and fifth. The left-hander has allowed 25 home runs over 105⅓ innings this season.

“He wasn’t very sharp tonight,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “I think the concern level is just the continued reminder that you got to make pitches, and even when you’re not sharp, find a way to execute. He had a hard time.”

The Tigers (50-56) didn’t offer Skubal any offensive help until the eighth inning, resulting in a 4-3 loss to the Orioles on Friday at Comerica Park. The defeat snapped a three-game winning streak for the Tigers and a 10-game win streak at home.

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Skubal, 24, pitched 5⅔ innings and allowed four runs on seven hits and one walk with four strikeouts. He was replaced after 88 pitches (58 strikes) by right-handed reliever Erasmo Ramirez, who got the final out in the sixth without further damage.

Against Skubal, the Orioles logged an average 92.2 mph exit velocity.

“I just didn’t execute pitches at a great clip tonight,” Skubal said. “That’s probably the most frustrating part. I was trying to go in to righties a little bit and just leaked over the middle. That’s kind of what happened.”

The Tigers finally scored in the eighth, starting a rally when Derek Hill tripled to the gap in left-center. Using his elite speed, he cruised into third base  for his first career big-league 3-bagger, and later scored on Tanner Scott’s wild pitch.

The next three batters reached safely: Akil Baddoo (single), Jonathan Schoop (hit by pitch) and Robbie Grossman (walk). With Miguel Cabrera stepping to the plate, the Orioles replaced the ineffective Scott with right-hander Dillon Tate.

Cabrera crushed the ball 422 feet (with a .780 expected batting average), but center fielder Cedric Mullins caught it at the back of the warning track. Nearly a grand slam, the sacrifice fly cut the Tigers’ deficit to 4-2.

“I never think a ball to center field is going,” Hinch said. “It’s really far out there.”

“I thought for sure he got it,” Schoop said. “I raised my hands up and everything. It’s tough here. You got to really hit it good. Unfortunately, it stayed in.”

On a pitch in the dirt to Eric Haase, which resulted in a two-out walk, Tate threw the ball away, allowing Schoop to score and make it a one-run game. But Zack Short lined out to shortstop to end the threat.

Orioles right-hander Cole Sulser pitched a perfect ninth inning.

A good Knight

For the third start in a row, Orioles right-hander Matt Harvey — a 2013 National League All-Star for the Mets, when he earned the NYC-themed nickname “Dark Knight” — delivered a scoreless performance. The 32-year-old blanked the Tigers over his 6⅓ innings, giving up just six hits.

Harvey did not allow a walk and struck out five batters. He threw 58 of 81 pitches for strikes.

“I’ve seen him over the years, and he’s had to evolve as a pitcher,” Hinch said. “He’s had his rough patches of late, but he’s really found something with the Orioles. They’ve done a nice job of getting him two separate breaking balls. He’s super confident in his off-speed. He had the little comeback sinker inside to our lefties. He could freeze with some late fastballs.

“He’s a creative pitcher. He used to be a power pitcher that really came at you to punch you out. What I saw tonight was a mature veteran that has adapted his style of pitching to more creative uses of his secondary pitches.”

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The Tigers had their first scoring opportunity in the third inning, with Harold Castro and Baddoo standing on the corners. But Schoop grounded out to second base to end the threat. In the fourth, Cabrera drove a one-out double to the deepest part of the right-center gap but didn’t score. Jeimer Candelario flied out to center field and Haase struck out swinging to strand him.

Cabrera opened the seventh inning with a single to center field, the 2,941st hit of his 19-year career. Candelario immediately followed with a single to right. After Haase lined out to center field, the Orioles replaced Harvey with lefty reliever Paul Fry.

Facing Fry with one out, Short, pinch-hitting, popped out to second base and Willi Castro struck out swinging.

The Tigers finished 8-for-33 with two walks and seven strikeouts. They went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. With the strong performance, Harvey improved his season-long ERA to 6.20 over 21 starts.

Homers beat Skubal

Baltimore scored its first run in the third inning, as Pedro Severino homered to straightaway center field. He gave Skubal’s two-seam fastball — the first pitch he saw — a 442-foot ride into the shrubs.

Ryan Mountcastle did his damage in the fourth in a seven-pitch battle.

Mountcastle swung at a 95 mph fastball and lined a 357-foot home run to right for a 2-0 lead. Severino tacked on his second home run of the night, and his eighth long ball this season, in the fifth inning for a three-run advantage.

“If those pitches are where I’m supposed to throw them, they’re not home runs,” Skubal said. “If they are, then you tip your cap. The fastballs that miss in the middle of the plate, it doesn’t really matter if a team’s aggressive or not, they’re probably not going to miss those.”

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The Orioles tried to add more runs in the fifth with one-out singles from Pat Valaika and Mullins, but a mound visit from pitching coach Chris Fetter seemingly reminded Skubal to throw his two-seam fastball down in the strike zone. Skubal used the two-seamer for his first pitch to Austin Hays, who grounded into an inning-ending double play.

In the sixth, Ramon Urias’ two-out single scored Trey Mancini, who started the inning with his 23rd double, to give the Orioles a 4-0 lead.

The single from Urias chased Skubal from his start. 

Pregame notes

Infielder Isaac Paredes (left hip strain) and utility player Niko Goodrum (left calf contusion) traveled to Triple-A Toledo to begin their rehab assignments.

Paredes entered Friday’s lineup as the second baseman for Mud Hens and delivered a two-run double against right-hander Brady Singer — on a rehab assignment for the Royals — in the second inning. He finished 1-for-3 with two RBIs in Toledo’s 11-1 win.

Goodrum is expected to play Saturday.

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Outfielder Daz Cameron (right toe sprain) has been on the injured list since July 7, retroactive to July 5, but could start a rehab assignment in Toledo soon.

“We’re hopeful Daz is going to be right behind them,” Hinch said, “but I haven’t gotten an update on him yet.”

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

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