Matthew Boyd fills strike zone in his final tuneup as Detroit Tigers take down Pirates

Detroit Free Press

BRADENTON, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-2, on Friday at LECOM Park, improving to 11-11 in Grapefruit League play.

What happened

Left-hander Matthew Boyd, the Opening Day starter, pitched into the fifth and sixth innings for the first time this spring. He was incredibly efficient, using 75 pitches (52 strikes) and worked into plenty of quick two-strike counts. He struck out Colin Moran to open the sixth before manager AJ Hinch went to the bullpen. Robbie Grossman crushed a home run into the left-field parking lot on the fourth pitch of the game from Pirates starter Tyler Anderson. It was his third homer in spring training. The Tigers drew five walks and picked up 11 hits — striking out just eight times — to account for their five runs.

LAST NIGHT: Casey Mize records nine strikeouts in Tigers’ 3-3 tie against Blue Jays

PREVIOUSLY: Tigers prospect Cam Gibson’s excellent Australian baseball adventure

Starting off

Boyd gave up two runs on five hits and one walk, with six strikeouts in 5⅓ innings. He used 29 sliders, 26 four-seam fastballs, eight sinkers, seven changeups and five curveballs. Of his 11 swings-and-misses, he logged five with both his slider and four-seamer. His fastball velocity was a tad lower than usual — averaging 91.4 mph. He gave up a two-run homer to Colin Moran on a slider in the fourth inning. This was Boyd’s final outing before the Tigers begin the regular season April 1 against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park.

At the plate

Utility player Harold Castro and first baseman Renato Nunez continue to compete for a roster spot, now that infielder Isaac Paredes has been optioned to Triple-A Toledo. On Friday, they combined for two hits and looked solid defensively; Castro started at shortstop before moving to center field. Spencer Torkelson, the 2020 No. 1 overall pick, started at third base. He went 0-for-3 with one walk and two strikeouts. Riley Greene, another top hitting prospect, entered in left field as a defensive replacement and struck out in his lone at-bat. Second baseman Kody Clemens and catcher Dillon Dingler each went 2-for-2. Dingler’s second single pushed in a ninth-inning run. Rule 5 draft pick Akil Baddoo went 0-for-1, worked pitchers deep into counts and managed two walks. After Grossman’s homer, Jonathan Schoop (single), Miguel Cabrera (sacrifice fly), Castro (single) and Dingler (single) drove in runs.

NEW BACKUP: Why Tigers chose Grayson Greiner to be backup catcher over Jake Rogers

STEPPING UP: How Casey Mize forced his way onto the Tigers’ Opening Day roster

On the mound

Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez took over for Boyd and continued his dominant spring training. Although he won’t make the Opening Day roster, don’t be surprised to see him pitching for the Tigers at some point in 2021. The 30-year-old got two strikeouts and did not allow a baserunner across 1⅔ innings. This spring, Ramirez has given up only one run through 13⅓ innings, to go with 11 strikeouts and three walks. Lefty Ian Krol, who is also out of the mix for making the team, pitched a scoreless eighth inning. He got one strikeout and allowed one hit. Righty Kyle Funkhouser — who was part of the first slate of cuts this spring — tossed a clean ninth inning.

Three stars

1. Boyd, 2. Ramirez, 3. Baddoo.

TOUGH CUTS: Tigers send prospects Isaac Paredes, Jake Rogers to Triple-A Toledo

Next up

Saturday against Philadelphia Phillies in Lakeland.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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