Tigers 7, Rays 1: Skubal and company rock the Trop

Bless You Boys

Consistent and relentless offense. Flashing, sterling defense. More from the impossibly dominant bullpen. And a brilliant effort from the team ace.

If you are one of the lucky Detroit Tigers fans who tuned in to Monday night’s game between the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays, congratulations: you just enjoyed early spring baseball at its finest. Detroit dominates Tampa Bay, 7-1.

I had this game circled for a few days. Tarik Skubal starts are officially in “Must-See JV” territory thus far in 2024, and I have the same fascination in the Tampa Bay Rays that enamors many baseball enthusiasts. With that said, when I saw this evening’s starting lineup, my excitement doubled.

There are many exciting developments to be observed in this lineup. Kerry Carpenter batting third means more at-bats for Kerry Bonds; Mark Canha batting second means that manager A.J. Hinch is feeling the matchup between Mark Canha and the starting pitcher; and Javier Báez entered tonight’s action on a four-game hitting streak, meaning that the 7-8-9 portion of the Tigers lineup wasn’t a total black hole for the team’s offense. I didn’t know what to expect tonight, to be fair, but I was cautiously optimistic.

Color me enamored, as all of the strengths of this Detroit team’s talent pool were on display tonight.

Tonight’s action, of course, began with a Mark Canha bomb off of Rays right-hander Zack Littell. Tropi-Canha!

Littell is a 28-year-old arm who the Rays converted to starting pitching last season. Tonight marked just his 19th career start, just a few more than 24-year-old Tigers pitcher Reese Olson. Mark Canha entered tonight having homered off of Littell before, and it took him two pitches to accomplish the feat again.

In the second inning, Matt Vierling maintained momentum for Detroit with a sharp line-drive double down the right-field line. Javy Báez then wasted no time in extending his hitting streak to five games with a sharp line drive of his own:

Not long after, Jake Rogers broke his own season-long slump by managing an infield single off the pitcher’s mound. The single scored Báez, but on a throwing error (no RBI for Jake). Rogers would notch another hit later in the game, raising his average to .119 on the young season as he finished the day 2-for-3.

The game sat at 3-0 until the fifth inning, and to be honest, I was comfortable with this. I have covered five games now thus far in 2024, and I had seen Detroit score two runs in the first four games combined. Furthermore, Tarik Skubal was absolutely shoving.

Tigers ace Tarik Skubal posted a 0.50 WHIP, notched a quality start, and struck out nine Rays over six frames in his first road start of the 2024 campaign. Goodness gracious! Skubal notched seven of his nine strikeouts on the day with a vicious sinking fastball but also managed a strikeout each with his changeup and his slider. Not quite his usual game plan, but it undoubtedly neutralized the Tampa offense. (Between the Lions, tonight’s Tigers loss, and the loss of Stevie Yzerman, Tampa Bay residents must getting quite tired of Detroit sports teams.)

As I write this, Tarik Skubal sits at +500 on a local major sportsbook to win the American League Cy Young, only behind Orioles ace Corbin Burnes, who sits at +470. The only other serious contender at this time, Twins ace Pablo Lopez, sits at +750. If he happens to win the award at any point in his Detroit Tigers career, Tarik Skubal would join Max Scherzer (2013), Justin Verlander (2011), and Denny McLain (1968-69) as the only three Tigers starting pitchers to ever win the American League Cy Young award.

In the fifth inning, of course, the Tigers widened their lead.

Thank you, Rays defense, and have yourself a night, Mark Canha! 5-0, Detroit, through 5.

In the later innings of tonight’s action, Detroit flashed its elite defensive upside.

Not a bad defensive middle infield, right?

And in the sixth and seventh inning, respectively, Detroit went up 6-0, then 7-0.

First, Parker Meadows goes deep for the second time this year, raising his early-season average to .093, giving Detroit a 6-0 lead.

And then, Kerry Carpenter ended tonight’s fireworks show from the Detroit offense with an RBI, extending his consecutive games with an RBI streak to 7 and putting Detroit up 7-0.

From there, Detroit’s bullpen posted a 3.00 ERA on the night, which is actually high compared to what we’ve received this April. Will Vest pitched a clean seventh inning, Shelby Miller once again allowed a run in the eighth on a Caballero solo shot, and Joey Wentz allowed two baserunners but no runs to close things out in the ninth inning.

Tonight’s win moves Detroit to 13-10 on the young season. The Tigers will trot out a struggling Kenta Maeda against Rays starting pitcher Ryan Pepiot tomorrow evening at 6:50 p.m. ET.

Colt Comes Close

Colt Keith struggled offensively, going 0-for-4 on the day, but his fourth-inning fly-out was home run material (and he gave the team an exceptional effort at second base defensively, as you may have seen above).

MORE TIGERS CONTENT. MORE BENETTI CONTENT. MORE DICKERSON CONTENT. (pssst, Dan: please come fan-post again soon)

We’re excited for that podcast, and the broadcast teams showed solid teamwork already in the booth on Monday night.

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