Detroit Tigers left-hander Tarik Skubal speaks on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, after nearly completing seven innings in a 3-1 loss to the Angels.
Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press
Detroit Tigers rookie Tarik Skubal wished he hadn’t left the ball over home plate in the first inning.
“I just didn’t perform a throw,” Skubal said. “It’s unfortunate that a pitch makes a difference in the game. If I take that pitch and get in, it’s a completely different result. I don’t think it was a home run. It might be a sure hit, but I don’t think it’s bringing it out of the yard. Good location, bad location. “
Skubal delivered another brilliant performance for the Tigers (58-64), but Upton’s home run carried the most weight in a 3-1 loss to the Angels. Los Angeles was led by starting pitcher / main hitter Shohei Ohtani, who delivered eight one-run innings on the mound and hit his 40th homerun this season.
“He’s an incredible and special talent,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said of Ohtani. “We were able to witness it, unfortunately at our expense. He was clearly in charge of the game tonight. If you take away the competition and the agony of losing, it’s just amazing what he does as such a big chunk of why baseball is great. “
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After Upton’s home run, Skubal struck out 15 of the next 16 hitters until Phil Gosselin scored a single on a missed play with two strikeouts in the sixth inning. First baseman Renato Nunez lined up the ball, but Skubal dropped the pitch while running to cover the base.
“He kept us there until the very end of his outing,” Hinch said. “Tarik was really good, all of his throws. I loved the change tonight. I also loved the command and the ability to hit the sweet spot and take advantage (count). He gave us a chance to win. ”
He’s 2 for 15 (0.133) with three walks, five strikeouts and one hit per pitch in five games since returning to Comerica Park on Friday.
Celebrating the first anniversary of his MLB debut, Skubal allowed two runs on six hits in 6th innings, striking out seven strikes without conceding a walk. The 24-year-old shot 69 of 97 strikes, winning 12 swings and misses.
Skubal kept MLB home run leader Ohtani in check. He struck out Ohtani with a slider to start the first inning, adding a pair of strikeouts in the second. Ohtani lined up right field on a first pitch slider in third frame and touched down at second on a second pitch fastball in sixth.
“I felt like I was in my accounts most of the night,” Skubal said. “The slider was not as sharp on the side of the glove as I would like. It’s something I can take away from today that I didn’t really like too much. But yeah, I thought I was in control of everything pretty well. “
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For Skubal’s 12 swings and misfires, he recorded them with two two-seam fastballs, three sliders, two four-seam fastballs, four shifts and a curved ball to the knuckles.
To finish the fifth, Jack Mayfield smashed the third base line. Skubal loaded the ball, lined it up and threw it at Nunez for the third out. The game forced the 6-foot-3 Skubal to show off his athleticism, so he didn’t hesitate to celebrate with a little extra energy on the way back to the dugout.
Skubal came out with two strikeouts in the seventh inning after 97 shots, giving way to right-handed reliever Jose Cisnero. He inherited two runners in goal position but avoided damage by taking Mayfield out of a fastball at 95 mph.
Ohtani does both
After Skubal left, Ohtani received “MVP” chants at Comerica Park for his offense.
That’s because the 27-year-old landed a solo 430-foot home run to right field in the eighth inning. He scored a second height slider from Cisnero with an exit speed of 110.1 mph and sent fans into a frenzy. His 40th homer in 2021 took the Angels lead to 3-1.
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Ohtani also completed eight one-run innings. The Tigers’ only run came in the fifth inning, when Willi Castro hit a 365-foot solo homerun to right field. But Ohtani allowed just six hits and his opponents couldn’t get many chances.
“We had a big hit with Willi hitting the home run, and that’s the key,” Hinch said. “We need Willi to warm up. I like the adjustments he made in the outfield. His batting hits are pretty good. One of the best swings from start to finish from one of our hitters was Willi. “
Closest to the angels, Raisel Iglesias, threw a perfect ninth inning, knocking out Jonathan Schoop and Jeimer Candelario on strikes.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter for the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Learn more about the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.