Tigers turn to Tarik Skubal in series opener vs. Rays

Field Level Media

April 22, 2024 at 11:46 am.

Following a series loss at the American League East-leading New York Yankees, the Tampa Bay Rays will spend the week playing against the AL Central.

That stretch will begin Monday when the Rays host the Detroit Tigers in the first of three evening contests in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The fortunes for both sides have flipped compared to when they met in the opening series of the 2023 season.

The Rays began their record-setting 13-game winning streak with three overwhelming home victories vs. the Tigers. Tampa Bay set the tone to its streak by outscoring Detroit 21-3 in the series.

Tigers manager A.J. Hinch watched his team limp to a 2-9 start in 2023, but Detroit re-gathered itself to finish second in the division to the Minnesota Twins.

Now through 22 games, the Tigers are playing winning baseball by sitting two games above .500.

Detroit starting pitching Casey Mize continued his strong campaign with six shutout innings in Sunday’s 6-1 win over Minnesota. The 2018 No. 1 overall pick allowed five hits and three walks while fanning four.

Promoted over the weekend, second baseman Buddy Kennedy hit his second career homer and drove in three runs to propel the Tigers to a win in the rubber match of the series.

“It was a good day (for him),” Hinch said. “When guys come up, they want to contribute and feel part of it. Today was a great example of that. … The energy that the newness brings … guys get pretty fired up.”

On Monday, Hinch will look to left-hander Tarik Skubal (2-0, 2.28 ERA) to continue his stellar work on the mound in his fifth start.

In a small sample of three career starts vs. the Rays, Skubal has a 1-0 record and a 1.59 ERA. His win came last Aug. 5 in a 4-2 decision in Detroit. He allowed one run on six hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Tampa Bay won Saturday 2-0 in 10 innings over the Yankees, but the division leaders used a four-run fifth inning Sunday to offset a three-error day in the field and hold on for a 5-4 victory.

Rays starter Aaron Civale was not sharp in the series finale, surrendering five runs on eight hits and issued five walks in 4 2/3 innings.

Amed Rosario extended his hitting streak to 13 games by going 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run.

“It does seem like every time we’re doing something good offensively that Rosie’s right in the thick of all of it,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Cash will turn over Monday’s mound duties to right-hander Zack Littell (1-0, 2.14 ERA), who also will be in his fifth outing.

Littell has made five appearances against Detroit but just one start. Overall, he is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 10 innings, allowing just six hits and two walks to go with three strikeouts.

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