OAKLAND — Tarik Skubal used to watch as a young fan as Barry Zito took the Oakland Coliseum mound and snapped off the dazzling curves that baffled Major League hitters for years.
Skubal found himself toeing that same mound Thursday, and he stymied the Athletics for six dominant innings, leading the Tigers to a 7-2 victory over Oakland in the first game of a doubleheader.
The left-hander — who was born in Hayward, Calif., about 19 miles southeast of Oakland — held the A’s to two hits and one unearned run, striking out nine and walking two. He earned the victory in front of several family members who cheered him on at the Coliseum.
“I remember watching Eric Chavez back in the day,” Skubal said. “He was my favorite player growing up. And Zito was that lefty, [with] that big, big breaking ball. It’s iconic, so it’s pretty cool to come and play here.”
Robbie Grossman, who played for the A’s in 2019-20, drove in three runs on a pair of doubles and made a terrific catch in left field as the Tigers snapped the four-game losing streak that took them into the All-Star break. Javier Báez had three hits for Detroit and Jeimer Candelario had a solo homer in the seventh.
It’s a whirlwind trip to Oakland for the Tigers, thanks to the lockout that delayed the start of the season and brought logistical challenges to the Major League schedule.
The Tigers flew to the Bay Area on Wednesday simply to play Thursday’s doubleheader. After finishing the second game, they’ll get right back on their charter and return to Detroit for the start of a two-game series with Minnesota on Saturday.