Ohtani outshines Skubal as Angels beat Tigers again, 3-1

Detroit News

Detroit — Rookie Tarik Skubal was very good Wednesday night, but Shohei Ohtani was better.

Not only did Ohtani shut the Tigers’ offense down for eight innings, he also launched a gigantic home run in the top of the eighth to help the Angels beat the Tigers for the second night in a row, 3-1, before another lively crowd (27,282) at Comerica Park.

He was preserving a 2-1 lead when he locked onto a slider from reliever Jose Cisnero. The ball left his bat with an exit velocity of 110 mph and soared 430 feet, just missing the second deck in right field.

The fans at Comerica chanted, “MVP, MVP,” as Ohtani circled the bases. Hard to argue. It was his 40th home run and he blew through eight innings in 90 pitches. The Tigers certainly couldn’t crack his five-pitch code.

His only mistake was a hanging curveball to Willi Castro in the fifth. That one left Castro’s bat with an exit velocity of 105 mph and flew high and true, staying inside the right-field foul pole.

The Tigers only got one other runner into scoring position. That was in the first and Jonathan Schoop, who was bluffing a tag-and-run, got doubled off second on a fly ball to right.

Miguel Cabrera got one of the six Tigers hits, a single to left in the first inning (career hit No. 2,952). But Ohtani got him the next two times on a rollover ground out and a strikeout. Ohtani followed a 98-mph bullet with a two-strike splitter that Cabrera waved feebly at.

In the ninth, Cabrera faced right-handed reliever Raisel Iglesias and hit the first pitch high and deep, but it died on the track in right field. The fans were that close to going into a frenzy.

Ohtani threw mostly four-seamers and slider, but the 14 splitters he used were deadly. He got 10 swings and six misses off that pitch. Five of his eight strikeouts were with the split.

Skubal may have been overshadowed a bit, but he was impressive in his own right. He  made one regrettable pitch in 6.2 otherwise sturdy innings. Unfortunately, it ended up beating him.

With a runner on and two outs in the first inning, he left a 2-2 four-seam fastball (95 mph) out over the plate to former Tiger Justin Upton. It’s never a good thing to let him get his arms extended on a fastball.

Upton sent it 427 feet, beyond the visitor’s bullpen in left-center.

After that little hiccup, though, Skubal got to work. From the second through the sixth, he dispatched 16 of 18 hitters. He finished with seven strikeouts (12 swings and misses) and no walks. On the season, he has 134 strikeouts (third most all-time among Tigers rookies) and just 41 walks.

Skubal gave up a couple of one-out singles in the seventh, and then got a run-saving play by shortstop Harold Casto. He made a diving, backhand stop in the hole, got up and fired a seed across the diamond to get Max Stassi.

Skubal, at 96 pitches, gave way at that point to right-hander Jose Cisnero. Cisnero struck out Jack Mayfield to strand the two runners.

Skubal had some hair on his fastballs. His two-seamer averaged 95 mph and hit 97 and his four-seam was just a tick under that (94.4). His slider and change-up were also effective for him.

Twitter: @cmccosky

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