Yankees hope to avoid sweep by host Tigers

MLB Baseball

The New York Yankees will require more punch from the lineup if they intend to salvage the finale of a three-game series in Detroit on Sunday.

The Yankees have been held to three runs combined while dropping the first two games this weekend. Their runs have come on a Rougned Odor solo homer, a passed ball and a double play.

New York has lost four of its last five overall, scoring a total of five runs in those defeats.

Getting more from leadoff hitter DJ LeMahieu would certainly help.

LeMahieu batted .327 and .364 in his first two seasons with the Yankees. Through Saturday’s 6-1 loss, in which he went 1-for-4, he is hitting .263, 40 points below his career average.

“Any time you don’t see him hitting .320 or .340, by his standards, it’s a slow start,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I think just like a lot of guys, he’s a tick off what he normally is. He’s done a really good job of getting on base at a nice clip. We feel like, over time, we expect him to really get it rolling like we know he’s capable of doing.”

Jameson Taillon (1-3, 5.06 ERA) was originally scheduled to start on Sunday for New York, but Boone has decided to give him an extra day of rest. Taillon, who pitched five scoreless innings against the Chicago White Sox last Sunday, has undergone two Tommy John surgeries.

The Yankees will instead turn it into a bullpen day, with right-hander Michael King expected to open and go multiple innings.

“Certainly there are opportunities that are presenting themselves right now,” Boone said. “We’ll see who takes advantage.”

King (0-1, 2.29 ERA) had a six-inning relief stint against Toronto early in the season, but he hasn’t gone more than three innings in any subsequent outing. He gave up one run on six hits in three innings against the Blue Jays on Tuesday in his most recent appearance.

The 26-year-old King has never faced Detroit.

The Tigers will have rookie left-hander Tarik Skubal on the mound. Skubal (1-7, 5.23 ERA) has racked up impressive strikeout numbers in his last two starts, fanning nine in each of those five-inning stints against Seattle and Cleveland.

“We’re watching Tarik mature,” manager AJ Hinch said. “He’s starting to learn himself more so than he’s learning the league. And as he incorporates both of those, he’s going to be a little more pitch-efficient. But the stuff is real.”

Skubal allowed a leadoff homer against the Indians, then gave up only one more run.

“I’m understanding better what hitters are trying to do in the box,” Skubal said. “I’m trying to get better at reading swings, just to get that feel, so when a sign gets thrown down, I’m not thrown off. I get that conviction.”

Skubal faced the Yankees in New York on April 30. He gave up four runs, including three homers, on five hits in three innings.

Hinch was pleased he didn’t have to use his top two relievers, Michael Fulmer and Gregory Soto, in Saturday’s victory. A quartet of the team’s other relievers tossed 3 1/3 scoreless, hitless innings with one walk and six strikeouts.

“It’s good when we have more than a few guys that I can go to,” Hinch said. “Any time you can line it up the way you want to in a win, everybody’s happy going home.”

–Field Level Media

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