(Photo credit: Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports)
Detroit Tigers left-hander Tarik Skubal will look to make it five straight September wins in what likely will be his final start of the season on Wednesday evening.
Skubal will face the Kansas City Royals in the second game of a three-game series in Detroit. He has a 1.04 ERA this month, having allowed just three runs in 26 innings. He has 35 strikeouts during that span while issuing just four walks and yielding 12 hits.
His latest outing may have been his best of the season. Skubal (7-3, 2.95 ERA) limited the Oakland A's to two hits and one walk while striking out a season-high 10 in seven shutout innings on Thursday.
"Tarik Skubal set a nice tone for us," Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. "You hand the ball to Tarik and then he comes out and dominates the strike zone, dominates counts, put-away pitches, soft contacts, low pitch count -- everything that you like about pitching, Tarik did (Thursday)."
Skubal relied on his four-seam fastball and changeup to frustrate the Athletics.
"The full year, I've felt pretty confident in those two pitches," he said. "The velocity is there, the separation's there, and the execution has been pretty good so far. So I'll stick the course and continue to get better at it."
Skubal endured his worst outing of the season against the Royals on July 18, surrendering seven runs in four innings.
Kansas City has been his biggest nemesis in his young career. In 10 appearances, including eight starts, he is 1-7 with a 5.51 ERA vs. the Royals.
Royals catcher Salvador Perez has been a major headache for Skubal, blasting three homers while going 7-for-16.
Kansas City will use Jonathan Bowlan as an opener on Wednesday in his major league debut. The 26-year-old right-hander went a combined 7-11 with 5.91 ERA in 24 appearances this season, including 21 starts, for Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha.
The Tigers (74-83) ended the Royals' six-game winning streak on Tuesday, scoring four eighth-inning runs en route to a 6-3 victory.
The Royals (54-103) had an early 2-0 lead behind five shutout innings from veteran right-hander Zack Greinke. A Spencer Torkelson two-run double tied the contest in the sixth.
Pinch hitter Akil Baddoo and Parker Meadows hit back-to-back home runs for Detroit during the decisive eighth inning.
"I didn't see where the pitch was, but it looked like (Baddoo) was ready to hit a fastball," Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro said. "We challenged him, and he did damage on it, and Meadows followed it up. And then things got away from us a little bit after that. Give them credit for being ready to hit."
Miguel Cabrera went 0-for-3 with a walk to begin the final homestand of his career. The Detroit designated hitter is retiring at the end of the season.
The Tigers were coming off a 6-4 road trip through California. Detroit improved to 8-3 against Kansas City this season.
"The ending was great," Hinch said of Tuesday's contest. (But) we had a hard time getting into the game. I don't know if that was time-zone-related or not."
--Field Level Media