DUNEDIN, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 8-4, on Friday at TD Ballpark, improving to 3-3 (with two ties) in Grapefruit League play.
Blue Jays left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu, on his 35th birthday, needed an inning to settle in, and before he got comfortable, the Tigers took advantage of his mistakes en route to a three-run first inning. Akil Baddoo crushed an 0-2 cutter for a leadoff home run to right field.
Baddoo, entering his second MLB season, hit .214 with zero homers in 108 plate appearances against lefties as a rookie last year. He finished Friday 1-for-3 with one strikeout.
The Tigers continued their first-inning surge with a one-out single from Robbie Grossman, followed by an RBI double from Javier Baez for a 2-0 lead. The double from Baez had a 112.3 mph exit velocity.
Baez went 2-for-3 with one RBI.
The most important hit for the Tigers came in the seventh inning, as infielder Isaac Paredes lined a 97 mph fastball from right-handed reliever Julian Merryweather over the left-field wall for a three-run home run.
Paredes isn’t known for hitting the ball hard, and fastballs gave him trouble last season, but this home run was hit with a 106.3 mph exit velocity and traveled 362 feet.
And it gave the Tigers a 6-3 lead.
Left-hander Tarik Skubal allowed two runs on four hits and one walk in 2⅔ innings, striking out four batters.
Both of Skubal’s earned runs came in the first inning, as George Springer and Bo Bichette — the first two batters in Toronto’s lineup — advanced into scoring position. They scored on Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s one-out double to right-center field. On the hit, center fielder Riley Greene appeared to slow down as he approached the wall and didn’t attempt a heroic play.
Skubal threw 23 pitches in the first inning and allowed two runs, but he struck out Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (swinging, 95.2 mph fastball) and Matt Chapman (swinging, 84.9 mph changeup).
In the second inning, Skubal needed 12 pitches for his three outs. He struck out Cavan Biggio swinging with a 94.8 mph fastball up-and-in on the hands. Biggio checked his swing but went too far.
Skubal didn’t complete the third due to his pitch count. He walked Springer on six pitches, struck out Bichette (84.1 mph slider) on eight pitches and got Guerrero to flyout to center field on two pitches.
Then, Gurriel ended Skubal’s outing with a two-out bloop single that dropped between Baddoo and shortstop Harold Castro in shallow left. Baddoo should have taken charge and made the out.
For his 56 pitches (36 strikes), Skubal threw 28 four-seam fastball (50%), 11 changeups (20%), nine sliders (16%), six curveballs (11%) and two sinkers (4%). He recorded eight swings and misses — three with his fastball, three with his slider and two with his changeup — and 10 called strikes.
His fastball averaged 94 mph.
At the plate
The Tigers scored their third run when Greene grounded into a double play to end the top of the first inning. Baez scored as Jonathan Schoop put himself in a rundown between first and second base, making it 3-0 Tigers.
Ryu pitched perfect second and third innings before giving way to Blue Jays’ bullpen. Toronto’s relievers were dominant, too, until the seventh. Greene (walk) and Harold Castro (single) set the table for Paredes’ three-run shot.
Zack Short and Jacob Robson hit RBI singles in the ninth.
The Tigers finished with eight runs on 10 hits and one walk.
On the mound
Replacing Skubal, right-handed reliever Rony Garcia struck out Chapman on three pitches to end the third inning. He sent him down swinging with an 80.2 mph slider, then worked around a two-out walk in the fourth for a clean appearance.
On the first pitch in the fifth, righty Chase Anderson allowed a solo home run to Springer, which tied the game at 3-all. Anderson recovered and completed two innings out of the bullpen. The Tigers also used righties Jason Foley and Ricardo Pinto, who allowed a run on a game-ending double play.
Foley, throwing 14 of 25 pitches for strikes, recorded one walk and two strikeouts in his scoreless seventh.
1. Baddoo, 2. Paredes, 3. Skubal.
Saturday vs. Philadelphia Phillies in Lakeland.