CLEVELAND – Aaron Civale owns the: Detroit: Tigers.
The: Cleveland: Guardians’ right-hander entered Friday’s series opener with a 9.85 ERA in six starts this season, but he also showed up with a 2.19 ERA in seven starts against the Tigers over his four-year MLB career.
This time, Civale dominated an already-struggling batting order, pitching into the seventh inning and allowing one to run. The Tigers lost, 6-1, in the first of three games at Progressive Field.
Detroit dropped to 13-26, worst in the American League.
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Tigers starter Tarik Skubal departed after the fifth inning with an apparent injury. The left-hander limped off the field after getting hit in the leg and knocked to the ground by a comebacker from Ernie Clement. The ball had a 100.4 mph exit velocity.
Right-handed reliever Jacob Barnes replaced Skubal for the sixth.
At that point, neither team had scored.
Within five pitches, the Guardians tallied four runs for a 4-0 lead. The first four batters reached safely, with slugger Jose Ramirez launching a three-run home run to right field.
Meanwhile, Civale kept working on the mound. He allowed just three hits and one walk with three strikeouts. His 6⅓ innings of one-run ball lowered his season ERA to 7.84 and his career ERA against the Tigers to 2.10.
He exited due to a left glute cramp with one out in the seventh inning, leaving runners on the corners for righty reliever Enyel De Los Santos. Spencer Torkelson hit a second-pitch slider for a sacrifice fly, putting the Tigers on the scoreboard.
But Detroit’s one run wasn’t nearly enough.
For the past 19 innings, Skubal has blanked his opponents.
He lowered his ERA to 2.22 across eight starts this season, tossing five scoreless innings on four hits in Friday’s loss. He did not concede a walk and racked up five strikeouts.
Skubal fired 49 of 66 pitches for strikes.
The 25-year-old needed one more scoreless inning to notch the longest scoreless innings streak in MLB this season, though – barring an injury – he will have an opportunity to accomplish the feat in his next start.
The longest scoreless streak by a Tigers starter since 2015, by the way: Michael Fulmer with 34 innings in 2016.
The Guardians’ four hits against Skubal were scattered: two in the first inning, one in the third and one in the fifth. Cleveland’s best chance to score came in the first, as Ramirez tripled to center field.
Center fielder Derek Hill misplayed an easy catch on the line drive from Ramirez, and the ball traveled over Hill’s head and rolled to the wall, giving Ramirez an easy triple.
On the next pitch, Skubal ended the first by inducing a groundout.
For his 66 pitches, Skubal used 22 sliders (33%), 21 four-seam fastballs (32%), 11 sinkers (17%), seven changeups (11%) and five curveballs (8%). He had five swings and misses, to go with an impressive 16 called strikes: three sliders, seven four-seamers, five sinkers and one changeup.
His slider averaged 90.9 mph, up from his 88.7 mph season average.
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The Guardians crushed Barnes for four runs in the sixth inning, and the Tigers turned to right-handed reliever Jason Foley for the seventh. He pitched a scoreless seventh but crumbled upon facing the top of Cleveland’s lineup in the eighth.
Myles Straw and Ahmed Rosario produced back-to-back doubles, putting the Guardians ahead 5-1.
Righty Drew Carlton replaced Foley, after Ramirez grounded out, with one out in the eighth. Owen Miller delivered a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Rosario from third base to make it 6-1.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers stumped once again by Cleveland Guardians in 6-1 loss: