Rain pushes Detroit Tigers’ opener vs. Cleveland Guardians to Friday doubleheader

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers (54-66) vs Cleveland Guardians (58-63)

When: 4 p.m. Friday as part of a straight doubleheader, with Game 2 beginning approximately 30 minutes after the end of Game 1.

Where: Progressive Field in Cleveland.

TV: Bally Sports Detroit

Radio: WXYT-FM (97.1 in Detroit; Tigers radio affiliates).

Probable pitchers: Game 1 — Tigers LHP Tarik Skubal (2-2, 4.18 ERA) vs. Guardians RHP Xzavion Curry (3-1, 3.39); Game 2 — Tigers RHP Matt Manning (4-4, 4.60 ERA) vs. Guardians RHP Gavin Williams (1-3, 2.80).

• Game 1 box score

• Game 2 box score

Tigers lineup: TBA

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Game notes: Tigers lefty Tarik Skubal is coming off his second-worst start of the season, giving up five runs (four earned) over 5⅓ innings vs. the Red Sox in Boston on Friday. In his seventh start since returning from last year’s tendon flexor surgery, he gave up seven hits and struck out just three — a season low. More concerningly, Skubal walked two — though that brought him up to just six walks this season, with 36 walks. He also gave up his first homer of 2023, to rookie Triston Casas with two on in the fourth inning.

Skubal’s 36/6 strikeout/walk ratio and lone homer have left him with an FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, a metric that measures how often pitchers allow what they can control — homers, strikeouts and walks — and scales it to an ERA-like figure) of 2.09. That’s the fifth best of any pitcher with at least 30 innings this season, behind only Baltimore’s Félix Bautista (1.87 in 57⅓ innings), Seattle’s Matt Brash (1.82, 51 IP), Texas’ Jacob deGrom (1.55, 30⅓) and Texas’ Aroldis Chapman (1.44, 40⅓).

Good news for the Tigers: No team has hit worse against lefties than the Guardians. They entered Thursday with a .650 OPS against southpaws, including a .357 slugging percentage that’s 59 points below the league average. Tonight will be Skubal’s first outing against the Guardians since May 26 last season, when he allowed three runs on five hits and one walks while striking out five over seven innings. One of those hits belonged to outfielder Myles Straw, one of the few Guardians position players still on their roster from back then; Straw has hit well against Skubal, with a .939 OPS in eight plate appearances. Also a threat (as in every Cleveland game): José Ramírez, who has gone 5-for-14 vs. Skubal with a double, a triple, a walk and two strikeouts.

Cleveland, meanwhile, sends rookie Xzavion Curry to the mound for his third appearance against the Tigers this season (following making his MLB debut against the Tigers on Aug. 15, 2022); Curry allowed two hits and struck out three over two shutout innings of relief in Detroit on April 18, then gave up one run on four hits over two innings on May 8 in Cleveland. Those four hits came in a span of five batters, with Miguel Cabrera (on a slider), Eric Haase (on a four-seam fastball), Zach McKinstry (on another four-seamer) and Riley Greene (on a curveball, for an RBI) sandwiching singles around an Andy Ibáñez double play as Curry mopped up in a 6-3 Tigers victory.

The Tigers and Guardians continue their season series — which the Tigers lead, 4-2 — with three more games by Lake Erie: Two 7:10 p.m. starts on Friday and Saturday, followed by a 1:40 first pitch on Sunday. After that, the Tigers zip back across the lake to host the Chicago Cubs in a three-game interleague series beginning Monday, while the Guardians get Monday off before the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers hit town for a three-gamer Tuesday-Thursday.

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Contact Ryan Ford at rford@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @theford. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.  

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