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Detroit Tigers' Tarik Skubal, scratched then unscratched, shines in 5-3 win over Pirates

Tarik Skubal was scheduled to start Tuesday night, but 20 minutes before the game — fearing the impending rain may break up his start — the Detroit Tigers announced he would be pushed back to Wednesday.

However, after a 2:05 rain delay, it was clear there wouldn't be another break in the evening, so A.J. Hinch decided to let him take the mound.

That worked out pretty well.

Detroit's ace did what he's done all year; limit baserunners while pitching deep into the ballgame as Detroit topped the Pirates 5-3. The Tigers are now 22-33.

Tigers pitcher Tarik Skubal delivers a pitch against the Pirates during the first inning on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Pittsburgh.
Tigers pitcher Tarik Skubal delivers a pitch against the Pirates during the first inning on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Pittsburgh.

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Skubal's final line was impressive: seven innings, six hits, three earned runs, no walks and nine strikeouts on 92 pitches (65 strikes) with 19 swings and misses and 13 called strikes. He's the only Tigers pitcher to complete seven innings in a start this yearr and he he's done so four times in 11 outings.

But his line still doesn't tell the story of how in control he was from the start.

The first "earned" run he allowed came with two outs in the second when a Cal Mitchell single squeaked under the glove of Javier Baez before Yu Chang, who entered the game 0-for-19 with 14 strikeouts, hit a Texas leaguer to right field.

Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson celebrates as he stands on second base after driving in a run with a double off Pirates pitcher Jose Quintana during the fourth inning on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Pittsburgh.
Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson celebrates as he stands on second base after driving in a run with a double off Pirates pitcher Jose Quintana during the fourth inning on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Pittsburgh.

Jonathan Schoop raced out, Austin Meadows charged in and the ball just tipped off the out-stretched arm of Schoop and dropped.

Meadows bobbled the ball as he tried to pick it up allowing Mitchell — who was running on contact — to score all the way from first and give Pittsburgh the lead.

Mitchell was the only real thorn in Skubal's side. He hit Jack Suwinski to lead off the inning and then with two outs made his only true mistake of the night, leaving a 1-1 slider over the heart of the plate that Mitchell smashed 405 feet into the right-field seats for a two-run home run.

The home run was just the third allowed by Skubal on the season and the first by a left-handed hitter.

Fortunately for the Tigers, they had some cushion to work with by that point.

In the top of the third, Willi Castro hit a two-out, two-strike single to right field to bring up Schoop, who ripped a double into the left-centerfield gap and tied the game 1-1.

Tigers shortstop Javier Baez tags Pirates left fielder Jack Suwinski out at second base attempting to stretch a single during the first inning on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Pittsburgh.
Tigers shortstop Javier Baez tags Pirates left fielder Jack Suwinski out at second base attempting to stretch a single during the first inning on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Pittsburgh.

The Tigers got some breathing room in the fourth. Baez led off the inning with a single, then recorded his first steal of the year. Two batters later, Spencer Torkelson ripped a double off the top of the wall in centerfield to put Detroit up 2-1.

The ball, hit 109 mph, was Torkelson's hardest hit since April 15.

Daz Cameron followed with a single and Tucker Barnhart walked to load the bases for Harold Castro. He sent a single up the middle, putting the Tigers up 4-1 and ending the day for Pittsburgh starter Jose Quintana with one out in the fourth.

After Mitchell's two-run shot cut the deficit in the bottom of the fourth, Skubal shut the door.

The Pirates' got back-to-back hits from Ke'Bryan Hayes (a hard-hit one-hopper of Baez's glove) and Brian Reynolds with two outs in the fifth, but Skubal got a three-pitch strikeout of Jack Suwinski to get out of his final jam of the night.

Skubal sent the Pirates down in order in both the sixth and seventh innings to finish his night, before the Tigers got an insurance run for the bullpen to work with in the eighth.

With one out in the eighth, Torkelson, who reached on a walk, was thrown out at second on a fielders choice. He was the second Tiger in as many innings to get thrown out between second and third, after Willi Castro was caught in a run down following his leadoff double in the seventh.

Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson runs from first to third base against the Pirates during the fourth inning on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Pittsburgh.
Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson runs from first to third base against the Pirates during the fourth inning on Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Pittsburgh.

In the next at-bat, Barnhart ripped a line drive to right field, Mitchell got a bad jump and dove at the ball sinking in front of him, which bounced and skipped beyond him.

It allowed Cameron, who reached on the fielders choice, to sprint all the way in from first base, and put the Tigers up 5-3.

Alex Lange came on in the eighth and after allowing a leadoff walk, Schoop made a leaping grab on a line drive by Reynolds and doubled off Hayes at first and then got a 1-3 putout of Suwinski.

Gregory Soto needed just eight pitches to work a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 11th save of the season.

Contact Tony Garcia at apgarcia@freepress.com. Follow him on twitter at @realtonygarcia.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers' Tarik Skubal shines in 5-3 win over Pirates