Detroit Tigers continue to roll, extend win streak to six with 7-5 victory over White Sox

Detroit Free Press

CHICAGO — For the first time since early June, Detroit Tigers left-hander Tarik Skubal completed six innings and looked like the better version of himself on the mound.

The offense supported its starting pitcher with four runs in the top of the seventh inning — all with two outs — and racked up seven runs from the sixth to eighth innings.

The Tigers won their sixth game in a row, beating the Chicago White Sox, 7-5, in the second of four games at Guaranteed Rate Field. Detroit improved to 36-47 overall and has a 12-7 record since June 18.

After two outs, the Tigers began their four-run seventh inning with Jonathan Schoop’s single and Spencer Torkelson’s full-count walk. Jeimer Candelario put the Tigers ahead, 3-2, with a single to right field.

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His hit chased White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito.

Right-handed reliever Joe Kelly entered, and Willi Castro greeted him with a two-strike single to drive in Torkelson for a 4-2 advantage. A full-count walk from Riley Greene loaded the bases.

Javier Báez fed off the boos from the fans in Chicago. He ripped a first-pitch curveball from Kelly to left field for a two-run double and a 6-2 lead. Upon arriving at second base, Báez tossed his arms in the air to taunt the crowd that’s been taunting him since Friday’s game.

The Tigers added a run in the eighth inning, as Eric Haase turned on the jets and scored from first base on an error by center fielder Luis Robert with two outs.

In the bottom of the eighth, the White Sox countered by scoring three runs with two outs. All three were charged to right-handed reliever Jason Foley. Left-hander Tyler Alexander got the final out — striking out right-handed pinch-hitter Andrew Vaughn on three pitches — but not before giving up two RBI singles.

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Righty Michael Fulmer escaped a jam he created, putting the tying run on base, but  pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his second save.

Entering Friday’s outing, Skubal had a 9.00 ERA — 23 runs in 23 innings — over his past five starts, from June 12 to  Sunday. During that stretch, he posted 14 walks and 20 strikeouts.

In his first 11 starts, the 25-year-old commanded a 2.33 ERA with 10 walks and 70 strikeouts in 65⅔ innings.

Facing the White Sox, one of the most dangerous offenses against left-handed pitchers, Skubal’s results resembled the production he showcased at the beginning of the season. He  allowed two runs on six hits and one walks with seven strikeouts in six innings, throwing 61 of 91 pitches for strikes.

Bounce back for Skubal

In the first inning, Robert crushed a two-run home run off Skubal’s first-pitch 93.8 mph four-seam fastball. The pitched traveled right down the middle, and Robert didn’t miss his opportunity.

He smacked the fastball with a 111.4 mph exit velocity. And the ball traveled 449 feet to left field.

Three of the first four batters recorded hits: Tim Anderson (single), Robert (home run) and Jose Abreu (double).

After Abreu’s double, Skubal locked in.

He seemed unpredictable with his pitch mix. His changeup and two-seam fastball helped him dominate the Chicago’s lineup, full of right-handed hitters. There weren’t any lefties in the lineup.

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Avoiding further damage, Skubal bounced back by striking out Eloy Jimenez (swinging, two-seamer) and Adam Engel (looking, two-seamer) to complete his 21-pitch first inning.

In the third, Skubal faced Robert and Abreu for the second time. Robert flied out to right field, and Abreu — in an eight-pitch battle — struck out swinging on a 90.1 mph slider.

Skubal worked around a walk in the fourth inning and two single in the fifth. A challenge from manager A.J. Hinch rewarded the Tigers with their third out in the fifth, as Anderson came off the base — only for a moment — while sliding into second on Robert’s single.

Initially, Anderson was ruled safe.

To conclude his outing, Skubal fired a three up, three down sixth inning. He struck out Jose Abreu (swinging, changeup) and Eloy Jimenez (looking, changeup) before Engel lined out for the third out.

For Skubal’s 91 pitches, he threw 27 sliders (30%), 23 two-seam fastballs (25%), 18 changeups (20%), 17 four-seam fastballs (19%) and six knuckle curves (7%). He recorded 15 swings and misses: five sliders, two two-seamers, five changeups, two four-seamers and one curve.

He also got 13 called strikes.

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Clutch hitting

Training by two runs, the Tigers tied the game, 2-2, in the sixth inning on Candelario’s two-run home run. He hammered a changeup from Giolito with a 102.8 mph exit velocity.

The ball carried 409 feet to right field.

Before Candelario went deep, Giolito was in complete control of his outing. He struck out the side in the first inning, and the Tigers had just one hit — Haase’s second-inning single — before the sixth.

Torkelson set up Candelario’s homer by drawing a full-count walk.

Giolito allowed five runs on five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in 6⅔ innings, throwing 65 of 94 pitches for strikes.

Contact Evan Petzold 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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