| Detroit Free Press
Detroit Tigers rookie Casey Mize: ‘Struggles are going to make me a lot better’
Detroit Tigers rookie Casey Mize shares his thoughts Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, about his first MLB season and what to expect heading into next year.
It wasn’t always easy for Detroit Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd.
But he hung in there, battled through six innings and departed with his team in possession of a one-run lead. Despite conceding five hits, two walks and one hit-by-pitch, Boyd worked out of numerous jams to hold the Kansas City Royals to three runs.
The Tigers (23-34) backed him with up 10 hits and earned a 4-3 win on Saturday. Relievers Joe Jimenez, Jose Cisnero and Bryan Garcia kept Kansas City off the board in the final three innings to complete the victory.
It was the first win in six games for the Tigers, who were eliminated Thursday from postseason contention.
Of Boyd’s 98 pitches, 52% were four-seam fastballs, 22% changeups, 12% sliders, 11% curveballs and 2% sinkers. He got 14 swinging strikes, including seven with his fastball and four with his changeup, for three strikeouts. He finished the season with a 6.71 ERA.
Detroit completes its schedule with one more game against the Royals. Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann makes a farewell start and will be relieved by rookie left-hander Tarik Skubal. The Tigers could make up a postponed doubleheader against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, but it will only happen if the Cardinals need one or both games to make the postseason.
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Two exit early
During his second at-bat, Willi Castro winced after a swinging strike, forcing manager Lloyd McClendon and head athletic trainer Doug Teter to check on him. Castro signaled he could finish his plate appearance, and he managed to drive in a run on a single to center field.
But after giving the Tigers a 4-1 lead, Castro took an early exit as a precaution. His injury was diagnosed as right shoulder soreness.
Defensively, Harold Castro switched from first base to second base, pinch-runner Brandon Dixon went to first base and Niko Goodrum shifted from second base to shortstop.
That wasn’t the end of the Tigers’ injury problems.
In the top of the fourth, their other Castro — Harold — grimaced during his seven-pitch strikeout. Similar to Willi, he stayed in to finish his at-bat. He exited with lower back tightness.
Another set of defensive changes were made: Dixon moved from first base to second base. Catcher Austin Romine moved to first base. And Eric Haase entered to catch Boyd. In his nine-year career, Romine had played 20 games at first before Saturday’s game — most recently Aug. 27, 2017.
Even without Victor Reyes in the starting lineup, the Tigers had no problem picking apart 23-year-old Carlos Hernandez in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Harold Castro and Miguel Cabrera singled to begin the threat.
With two outs, Goodrum delivered a run-scoring single. Romine followed with a double off the center-field wall to make it a 3-0 lead.
The Tigers chased Hernandez after 1⅔ innings. He gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits and one walk. He registered three strikeouts.
First MLB hit
Center fielder Derek Hill, a 2014 first-round pick, has been with the Tigers since Sept. 2, but the organization has only used him as a late replacement.
He got his first start Saturday, and he delivered with his first career hit in the first inning. He drove a 98.1 mph sinker off Hernandez to left field. Hill was denied his first RBI by left fielder Alex Gordon, who fired the ball to catcher Salvador Perez to get Romine trying to score from second base.
Mondesi rips up Tigers
Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi went 2-for-3 on Saturday, including a homer off Boyd in the first inning. Through the first three games this series, Mondesi went 9-for-10 with two doubles, one triple, one home run, five RBIs and two walks — and four steals.
He had reached in 11 consecutive plate appearances until Jimenez struck him out in the seventh inning with three consecutive 83 mph sliders.
This season, Mondesi has a .248 batting average and 24 stolen bases.
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.