In search of rare sweep, Tigers take on Reds

The Detroit Tigers have a chance Sunday to do something they haven’t done in a while — sweep a series. They’ll look to do it with ace Tarik Skubal on the mound against the host Cincinnati Reds.

Detroit, which can win three straight for only the fifth time this season, has not swept a series since opening the season by taking all three games from the host Chicago White Sox.

The Tigers secured the series win Saturday, rallying for five runs in the eighth inning after trailing by two to claim a 5-3 victory.

“We talk about winning series all the time, and this was the first series in a while where we feel really good about where we’re at,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “We can get greedy with Skubal on the mound (Sunday). We’ll quickly turn the page on this but … very proud of these dudes, and we’ll see where it takes us.”

Skubal (9-3, 2.45 ERA) has the third-lowest ERA in the majors, and his 119 strikeouts are third in the American League. Opposing hitters are batting .200 against him.

The 27-year-old, who will face the Reds for the first time in his career, has gone at least six innings in 14 of his 17 starts.

“I’ve had to work for everything I’ve gotten,” Skubal said, according to USA Today, at the end of May. “Nothing was given to me.”

Parker Meadows has made an impactful return to the majors after spending the past two months in Triple-A Toledo. The center fielder had a home run in his first game back Friday, and on Saturday, he sparked the late rally with a one-out double.

After the high of sweeping the New York Yankees during the week, the Reds have lost two in a row and dropped to fourth in the National League Central. Though steady at 4 1/2 games back of the second wild card, they’re only 1 1/2 games up on fifth in the division.

“It’s frustrating,” Cincinnati reliever Lucas Sims said. “Just frustrating. That’s the best way to put it.”

Sweeping the Yankees was their first series win since taking three of four from the Chicago Cubs from June 6-9, a run that capped a seven-game winning streak. Since then, they’ve lost 14 of 24.

Injuries haven’t helped. The Reds have been without infielders Christian Encarnacion-Strand (hand) and Matt McLain (shoulder) nearly all season. Center fielder TJ Friedl has been sidelined since June 23 with a hamstring injury. The Reds’ depth hasn’t been able to make up for their absences.

Stuart Fairchild has made some stellar plays in the outfield but is struggling at the plate. He is 1-for-13 through five games in July. Will Benson is batting .187 on the season with a .275 OBP.

“We need everybody,” Reds manager David Bell said. “We need contributions from our entire lineup. We’ll definitely be sticking with the guys we have out there, for sure.”

Cincinnati got a stellar outing from Hunter Greene on Saturday and will be hoping for a similar performance from Graham Ashcraft (5-4, 5.45 ERA) on Sunday. Ashcraft has never faced the Tigers.

–Field Level Media