DETROIT – Tarik Skubal allowed just two hits in seven shutout innings in Detroit Tigers’ 5-0 win over the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night.
“It was like playing a video game for me,” Tigers catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “It's pretty easy when he's going like that. You just make sure you sequence the pitches and let him do his things.”
Jonathan Schoop, who is hitting .438 with a home run and six RBIs in the five-game series against his former team, drove in two of Detroit’s runs.
“The ball is finally falling for me,” said Schoop, who came into the series hitting .173. “That's about all that has changed. I've made some good contact, but a lot of it is just having the ball land in the right place.”
The Tigers have won three of four in the series that concludes Thursday, including back-to-back shutouts, and six of eight overall.
“We needed to start playing this well a long time ago, but I think hopefully in this last couple of weeks we've seen ourselves take a step forward in a couple different areas,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “We're not perfect, but when we have a bad game, I've liked the resilience in this group.”
Skubal (4-2) walked one and struck out six to improve to 3-0 with a 1.22 ERA in his last six starts.
“I think a lot of this is all Tuck,” Skubal said of his catcher. “He does such a great job of reading the hitters and understanding what I need to throw. I just get the sign and throw it, honestly. I imagine he's having fun calling the games.”
The game took two hours and 13 minutes, the shortest of the season for both teams.
“I'm just trying to get my defense back to the dugout and let them hit again,” Skubal said. “My college coach said you can't get hit in the dugout, so that's what I'm always trying to do.”
Minnesota's Bailey Ober (1-2) allowed five runs on nine hits in six innings.
“I left too many off-speed pitches over the middle of the plate instead of putting them away in the outer half of the zone,” Ober said. “They ended up getting hit. That's what happens here.”
The Twins haven't scored in 20 innings.
“I've been happy with our offense as a whole this year, but we talk about everyone needing to step up when the time comes,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We're at one of those points right now. We need guys to come in."
Schoop drove in all four runs in Detroit's win in the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader. On Wednesday, he had an RBI single in the first inning.
Jeimer Candelario led off the fifth with a triple and scored on Tucker Barnhart's single off second baseman Jorge Polanco's glove. Harold Castro made it 4-0 with a two-out double later in the inning, and Schoop followed with a ground-rule double to make it a five-run lead.
“The whole night started with Jonathan making a two-strike adjustment and getting a simple single up the middle,” Hinch said. “You don't have to be a superhero, you just have to be a productive player. All of a sudden, it's 1-0 and that set the table for the night.”
Tigers: Rookie starter Joey Wentz was undergoing tests after leaving Tuesday's second game with a shoulder strain. Because Wentz was the 27th player for the doubleheader, any injury would result in him being placed on the minor-league injured list.
Twins: RHP Sonny Gray played long-toss catch for the second straight day, and Baldelli said he is improving. The team has still not made a final decision about placing him on the injured list.
The teams finish the five-game series Thursday afternoon, with Detroit's Alex Faedo (1-2, 3.00) facing Minnesota's Chris Archer (0-2, 4.19).