Detroit Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd has made eight starts this season.
His opponents have launched back-to-back leadoff home runs against him in three of them. On Friday, the Minnesota Twins did it for the third time, using homers from Jorge Polanco and Josh Donaldson to spark a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers ended up losing Game 1 of the doubleheader, 2-0, at Target Field. Minnesota improved to 23-16, extending its lead to four games above of the Tigers (17-18) for the third spot in the AL Central.
Twins right-hander Randy Dobnak worked himself into a jam with one out and runners on the corners in the first inning, but escaped by retiring Jeimer Candelario and Willi Castro.
After that, Dobnak was nearly unhittable. He didn’t allow a run in his five innings, giving up four hits and one walk with four strikeouts.
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Detroit continues the doubleheader with left-hander Tyler Alexander on the mound in Game 2. The five-game road series continues with left-hander Tarik Skubal (Saturday), righty Casey Mize (Sunday) and righty Michael Fulmer (Monday).
Boyd settles down
The first three batters put Boyd in a tough position: homer, homer and single. But he came back with a refined slider and maximized his curveball to settle in. He didn’t allow another hit until the second batter in the fifth — a single to Ryan Jeffers.
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Boyd produced two double plays in the third and fifth innings, sandwiched between a perfect fourth. He relied on his fastball 44% of the time, along with his slider (28%) and changeup (18%).
His slider earned him four swinging strikes and six called strikes, and his changeup produced seven swings and misses. As his approach changed, he became more efficient: 28 pitches in the first inning, 17 in the second, 15 in the third, four in the fourth, 10 in the fifth and 15 in the sixth.
Boyd finished with eight strikeouts and no walks in six innings.
Cabrera extends streak
Miguel Cabrera’s ground-ball single extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Through that stretch, he has three two-hit games and one with three. During his hitting streak, Cabrera is 15-for-37 (.405) with two doubles, one homer and nine RBIs. He has only struck out three times compared to four walks.
Tigers squander final chance
The Twins sent the Tigers down 1-2-3 in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings until Candelario reached on a single to center field to lead off the seventh against closer Taylor Rogers.
Candelario advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on Castro’s groundout. With a runner on third base, pinch-hitter Jorge Bonifacio grounded out for the second out.
In a 3-2 count and seven-pitch battle, Travis Demeritte struck out on a 95.4 mph two-seam fastball to end the game.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content.