For one inning, Matthew Boyd — who led the American League in home runs allowed in 2019 and 2020 — was the stingiest pitcher of 2021 in keeping the ball in the park. When he sent a fastball past A’s third baseman Matt Chapman to end the seventh inning on Sunday, he had faced his 101st batter of the young season without allowing a home run, three more than Clayton Kershaw.
He needed all of those outs to keep the Tigers in a low-scoring duel and protect a slim lead built an inning earlier on a Harold Castro two-run single. But when Sean Murphy tagged a fastball and sent it over the left-center-field fence to lead off the eighth, not only was Boyd’s homerless streak gone, so was Detroit’s lead.
As long as the Tigers struggle to score runs, their margin for wins is that slim, a margin that haunted them again when Victor Reyes lost Matt Olson’s fly ball in the sun with one out in the ninth. Mitch Moreland reached on an error on a ground ball toward third baseman Jeimer Candelario three batters later, scoring Olson and sending Detroit to a 3-2 loss and a four-game series sweep.