Detroit Tigers’ bats continue to stumble, Tarik Skubal blasted early in 7-0 loss to Texas

Detroit Free Press

Hearing boos at Comerica Park is normal these days, as the frustration from fans rolls on through June.

The product on the field is abysmal.

The Detroit Tigers‘ offense has scored one run in the past 35 innings and is averaging 2.56 runs per game. The pitching staff — punching above its weight due to numerous injuries — can’t be expected to post zeros on the scoreboard every game.

Friday’s game was another example. The Tigers lost, 7-0, in the second of four games to the Texas Rangers, dropping to 24-40, still the third-worst record in the American League. The shutout was the 10th against the Tigers in 2022, in just 64 games.

“It sucks,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “There’s no way for me to answer the same questions every night and give credit to the same pitchers every night. We’re all tired of it, but we’re going to wake up tomorrow with the same challenge. We have to continue to try to do better. I don’t have a better answer. Usually I do, but I don’t. We can’t be this bad this long. That’s obvious.”

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The Tigers recorded five hits but did not draw a walk.

Willi Castro, pressed into emergency duty replacing Austin Meadows, finished 2-for-4 with one strikeout.

The losing streak is at six games. Detroit has been outscored 54-11 in its past eight games, with two games left in this 10-game homestand.

Shortstop Javier Báez, batting .192 with three home runs in 52 games, committed one of the Tigers’ two errors. He was charged with fielding errors in the seventh and eighth innings, but his error in the eighth was later changed to a single by the official scorer.

“It’s an ugly night,” Hinch said. “I don’t think you can draw conclusions from that. This guy plays hard. He misplayed a couple balls, which looks worse when you’re not hitting.”

Skubal diving

The first four batters against left-hander Tarik Skubal, on the receiving end of some jeers despite his 3.13 ERA in 13 starts, were more than enough to propel the Rangers to victory: Marcus Semien walked, Corey Seager singled, Adolis Garcia doubled and Jonah Heim doubled.

Just like that, the Rangers took a 3-0 lead.

Garcia drove in one run, while Heim plated two runs. After a mound visit from pitching coach Chris Fetter, Skubal retired the next three batters in order to escape further damage in his 27-pitch first inning.

“Pitch execution hasn’t been great lately,” Skubal said. “That’s something I need to get back to doing. I haven’t been able to run four-seamers or sliders to my glove side as well as I’d like to. That’s something I’m going to take a look at and see if there’s anything mechanically that I’m changing. Mentally, I feel like I’m doing the same thing that I’ve always been doing.”

The Rangers tacked on another run in the third inning.

Corey Seager blooped a hit between left fielder Victor Reyes and second baseman Jonathan Schoop. A clear fielding mistake was ruled a double. Nathaniel Lowe followed with a two-out RBI double to put the Rangers ahead 4-0.

In the fifth inning, Heim crushed a solo home run to make it 5-0.

Skubal allowed five runs on eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts, throwing 62 of 100 pitches for strikes. He completed the fifth with his 100th pitch and did not return for the sixth.

“He didn’t have great stuff, and he didn’t locate glove-side early,” Hinch said. “He was battling himself, had high pitch counts. It was not a good night for him, and he looked like he was battling from the get-go.”

More runs vs. Tigers

But Skubal’s departure didn’t slow down the Rangers’ offense.

Right-handed reliever Will Vest opened his appearance by allowing three consecutive singles.

“It was a very uncharacteristic performance,” Hinch said.

Ezequiel Duran singled, advanced to second base on Vest’s throwing error and scored on Charlie Culberson’s single for a 6-0 lead. Leody Taveras added a single to put two runners on, and a one-out walk from Seager loaded the bases.

Garcia upped the Rangers’ advantage to 7-0 with a sacrifice fly, then Vest walked Heim on four pitches. That’s when left-hander Tyler Alexander took over on the mound. He needed one pitch to end the inning.

Alexander completed 2⅓ scoreless innings on 30 pitches.

Right-hander Joe Jimenez pitched the ninth inning.

Gray skies on a clear evening

Rangers right-hander Jon Gray entered Friday’s start with a 4.85 ERA across 10 outings. When he finished his 11th start, Gray’s ERA improved to 4.27 behind seven scoreless innings.

“He’s a good pitcher,” Hinch said. “You don’t want to tip your cap too much. We’ve been doing that a lot. I think his stuff is good. The good version of him, he gets into counts and he’s got electric stuff.”

The Tigers had their first scoring chance in the fourth inning, when Castro clubbed a one-out double. Miguel Cabrera and Báez, the next two batters, struck out swinging and flied out, respectively, for the second and third outs.

A second opportunity came with one out in the seventh.

Castro and Báez hit singles to reach safely, but just like in the fourth, the next two batters were retired consecutively: Robbie Grossman (strikeout) and Jonathan Schoop (flyout).

Gray fired seven scoreless innings, allowing just five hits. He had six strikeouts and didn’t concede a walk, throwing 68 of 102 pitches for strikes. Gray posted 13 swings and misses — eight with his slider — and 18 called strikes.

“That’s a veteran guy who knows when he sees blood, so to speak,” Hinch said. “He had his way.”

Contact Evan Petzold 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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