Detroit Tigers lose 3-1 to Los Angeles Angels; Shohei Ohtani deals on mound, homers

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers rookie Tarik Skubal wishes he hadn’t left the ball over the plate in the first inning.

He didn’t make many mistakes Wednesday at Comerica Park, but he paid for his early miscue. Ex-Tiger Justin Upton crushed Skubal’s fastball over the left-center wall for a two-run blast, giving the Los Angeles Angels a 2-0 lead.

Skubal delivered a brilliant performance for the Tigers (58-64) for his third straight outing, but the home run from Upon made the difference in a 3-1 loss to the Angels. Los Angeles was led by starting pitcher/leadoff hitter Shohei Ohtani, who delivered eight innings of one-run ball on the mound and smacked his 40th home run this season.

Detroit has dropped three games in a row and four of its last five.

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After Upton’s home run, Skubal retired 15 of the next 16 batters until Phil Gosselin singled on a botched play with two outs in the sixth inning. First baseman Renato Nunez fielded the ball, but Skubal dropped the toss while running to cover the base.

Still, Skubal struck out Upton with a 98 mph fastball to end the sixth.

Chasing 500 career home runs, Miguel Cabrera finished 1-for-4 with one single and one strikeout. The Tigers play one more game at Comerica Park — at 1:10 p.m. Thursday — before a five-game road trip against the Toronto Blue Jays (Friday-Sunday) and St. Louis Cardinals (Tuesday-Wednesday).

He is 2-for-15 (.133) with three walks, five strikeouts and one hit-by-pitch in five games since returning to Comerica Park on Friday.

Skubal shines

Celebrating the one-year anniversary of his MLB debut, Skubal allowed two runs on six hits over 6⅔ innings, striking out seven without conceding a walk. The 24-year-old fired 69 of 97 pitches for strikes, earning 12 swings and misses.

Skubal kept Ohtani, MLB’s home run leader, in check. He struck out Ohtani swinging with a slider to begin the first inning, adding a pair of strikeouts in the second. Ohtani lined out to right field on a first-pitch slider in the third frame and grounded out to second base on a second-pitch fastball in the sixth.

Ohtani finished 0-for-3 with one strikeout against Skubal.

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For Skubal’s 12 swings and misses, he recorded them with two two-seam fastballs, three sliders, two four-seam fastballs, four changeups and one knuckle curveball.

While Upton’s first-inning homer stung, Skubal made an adjustment. He threw four different pitches — slider, two-seam fastball, knuckle curveball and changeup — to Upton in the fourth, and the sequence produced a swinging strikeout. (He also struck out Upton with a 98 mph fastball in the eighth.)

To complete the fifth, Jack Mayfield bunted down the third-base line. Skubal charged the ball, fielded it and threw over to Nunez for the third out. The play forced the 6-foot-3 Skubal to show his athleticism, so he wasn’t shy celebrating with some extra energy on his way back to the dugout.

Skubal exited with two outs in the seventh inning after 97 pitches, giving way to right-handed reliever Jose Cisnero. He inherited two runners in scoring position but avoided damage by striking out Jack Mayfield with a 95 mph fastball.

Ohtani does both

Once Skubal departed, Ohtani received some “MVP” chants at Comerica Park for his offense.

That’s because the 27-year-old drilled a 430-foot solo home run to right field in the eighth inning. He tagged a second-pitch slider from Cisnero with a 110.1 mph exit velocity and sent the fans into a frenzy. His 40th homer in 2021 extended the Angels’ lead to 3-1.

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Ohtani also completed eight innings of one-run ball. The Tigers’ only run came in the fifth inning, when Willi Castro hit a 365-foot solo homer to right field. But Ohtani allowed just six hits, and his opponents couldn’t get many chances.

He threw 69 of 90 pitches for strikes, getting eight strikeouts without a walk.

Angels closer Rasiel Iglesias pitched a perfect ninth inning, striking out Jonathan Schoop and Jeimer Candelario.

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

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