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'Not a good day for me': Braves rough up Tarik Skubal, complete sweep of Tigers

Portrait of Chris McCosky Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Atlanta — Tarik Skubal, human being.

His magical season was interrupted by a harsh reality check from the Atlanta Braves, who exposed his occasional imperfections and knocked him out of the game after four innings, completing a three-game sweep of the Tigers on Wednesday, 7-0, at Truist Park.

Tigers pitcher Tarik Skubal (29) speaks with teammates at the mound in the fourth inning of Wednesday's game against the Braves in Atlanta.

"A little bit of everything," Skubal said when asked what he was battling. "It was not a good day for me."

Not a good day for Skubal and a rough, dispiriting 1-5 road trip that leaves the Tigers a season-worst six games under .500 (34-40) and seemingly reeling into a well-timed off day Thursday.

"We've got to focus on Friday (against the White Sox)," Skubal said. "We've got to win the next one. That's what our focus should be every single day. And if we can do that the rest of the year, I like the group we've got in here."

It was the shortest and least effective of Skubal’s 15 starts. He ended up contributing to his early exit with two walks and two hit-batsmen, very uncharacteristic lapses in control and command.

"I didn't command it well," said Skubal, though he defended himself on the hit batsmen.

"On one of those, I didn't even think it was that far in off the plate," he said. "I'm trying to go up and in and if I miss a little bit and they are diving out over the plate, that's what happens. I can't be afraid of going up and in. Obviously, I'm not trying to hit guys. But with a lineup like that against a left-handed pitcher, you have to pitch up and in if you want to have success."

He also missed out over the plate, particularly on the the two home runs he gave up. Sean Murphy clobbered a fat, 1-2 changeup in the third inning, a two-out, two-run homer. It was the second homer Skubal has allowed off a changeup in his last two starts.

"Changeup middle, that's what happens," Skubal said.

In Murphy’s first at-bat, he ripped a single on a 1-1 curveball. It was the first hit Skubal had allowed all year with his curveball. Hitters had been 0 for 11 against that pitch.

With two outs in that same inning, Ozzie Albies slapped an RBI single off another curveball.

It was that kind of day for Skubal. And for Murphy.

He came in with one home run on the year. He hit his second homer of the game in the fifth off reliever Mason Englert.

Skubal’s day ended after a messy fourth inning. Ramon Laureano ambushed a first-pitch fastball (velo down to 94 mph) and drove it into the seats in left field to start the inning. Skubal then plunked Albies and walked Marcell Ozuna.

Albies broke for third base and Skubal made a rushed and errant throw. Albies trotted home.

"That was my fault," Skubal said. "I threw that ball away and I probably just should have held it, ate it and then the run doesn't even score because I went punchy, punchy (strikeouts) to the next two hitters. In the moment, you try to make a play. Looking back, I probably shouldn't have thrown the baseball. He was probably going to be safe either way."

The final line for Skubal read: four innings, five runs, four earned, seven strikeouts.

"It just wasn't a good day for him," manager AJ Hinch said. "They hit a couple of changeups, which changed his pitch selection a little bit. And then when he tried to drive the fastball in, he hit a couple of guys. He was off today.

"But, early on, (the Braves) did some two-out hitting against him. They took advantage of that. We had some two-out chances and didn't get any hits."

The Tigers' Akil Baddoo looses the bat on his strikeout in the sixth inning Wednesday in Atlanta.

The Tigers offense continues to wobble, amassing a total of two runs in 27 innings against Braves pitching.

"The approach is fine," Hinch said. "The execution is hard. Right now we're not in a good place and when that piles up on you a little bit, even though you try to separate each individual at-bat, it's tough. It's time to go home. This was not a good trip."

Resurgent right-hander Reynaldo Lopez blanked the Tigers through five innings, lowering his ERA to 1.57.

"He overpowered us," Hinch said. "He's very athletic and his delivery will change. He will go quick, he will go slow. We would get a couple of guys on base and he'd reach back and get 97-98 mph. He's been doing it the entire year. We saw it in person today."

The Tigers collected seven hits off him and had runners on the bases in each of his five innings. But, familiar refrain, they were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position. They had just one hit against the Braves bullpen over the last four innings.

"It's rough," said Riley Greene, who continues to be the club's most consistent threat at the plate. "It was not a good road trip for us. But we can't really think about that. We get an off day tomorrow to relax and reset and just flush it. Then we will show up on Friday ready to get after it."

chris.mccosky@detroitnews.com

@cmccosky