The Detroit Tigers haven’t won three straight games or swept a series this season.
They can do both with a victory over Baltimore at home on Sunday.
Detroit won the series opener 4-2 on Friday, then blanked the Orioles 3-0 on Saturday.
While the team hasn’t come close to an offensive explosion, some of its hitters are showing signs of coming around. Eric Haase hit his second homer of the season on Saturday after Miguel Cabrera did the same the previous night.
“Our guys are good hitters,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “We haven’t done well in the first month but these guys have a track record.”
Tarik Skubal will pitch the finale of a seven-day homestand for Detroit. Skubal (2-2, 2.94 ERA) has posted three quality starts in his last four outings, including seven scoreless innings on Tuesday in a 6-0 win over Oakland. He gave up only three hits and struck out five.
“My fastball didn’t quite have the life it usually does, for whatever reason,” he said. “So I relied on the slider a little bit more. I liked that pitch more (Tuesday) and didn’t have the same confidence in my fastball.”
Skubal has been the team’s best starter this season, a much-needed boost with three of Detroit’s projected starters out with injuries. Casey Mize and Matt Manning have been rehabbing from injuries suffered last month; Michael Pineda, who started Saturday’s game, suffered a broken finger on his pitching hand after getting struck by a line drive.
“He’s really dominant,” Hinch said of Skubal. “His stuff is really good, his preparation is good, he holds himself to a super high bar. He was so mad at himself on a few pitches that he got away with. That’s actually encouraging, for a pitcher to judge himself not only when things don’t go well but even when he was getting outs. He’s getting pretty dialed in for a young pitcher.”
In two appearances against the Orioles, both starts, Skubal is 1-1 with an ERA of 3.09 over 11 2/3 innings.
Skubal will be opposed by Tyler Wells (1-2, 3.75 ERA), who notched his first major league win as a starter in his last outing. He held Kansas City to one run on five hits in six innings on Monday.
“I wouldn’t call it a milestone,” Wells said. “Since Tommy John surgery (in 2019), six innings and a quality start, I guess, is what you could consider the milestone. But the way I’m looking at it right now is just making sure that I go out there and I give my team a chance to win, and that’s exactly what happened.”
Wells, who hasn’t walked a batter in his four starts, made 44 relief appearances last season. He has pitched one inning against the Tigers in his career, allowing no runs in a 2021 appearance.
“It’s not easy, doing what he’s doing in transitioning,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “That’s what people need to understand. It’s not easy transitioning from a bullpen to a starter, not pitching for two years prior to that, and to be able to post every five to six days the way Tyler is doing right now. That’s why we’re monitoring it so closely, because we care so much about the kid — we believe in him going forward.”
The Orioles hope Austin Hays can return as early as Sunday from a hand injury.
-Field Level Media