Boyd delivers season-best effort against KC

Detroit Tigers

DETROIT — Matthew Boyd’s strong opening month rolls on, even as his hard luck against the Royals continued. The Tigers left-hander held his old AL Central nemesis to three hits over eight innings, but an unearned run left him on the short end of a duel against Brady Singer during a 2-1 Detroit defeat on Saturday at Comerica Park.

It was a gem of an outing against an unlikely foe. Boyd entered the day with a 6.05 ERA in 22 starts against the Royals, though he picked up two of his three wins last season against Kansas City. Much of his historic trouble started at the top of the lineup, where leadoff hitter Whit Merrifield hit 25-for-48 (.521) lifetime against him, the highest batting average for any active batter-pitcher matchup with at least 50 plate appearances.

Boyd not only shut down Merrifield and fellow foe Hunter Dozier, he quieted most of a Royals lineup that has been off to a solid start this season. Boyd retired his first 12 batters in order until Jorge Soler doubled off the left-field fence to lead off the fifth. Hanser Alberto’s one-out single put runners at the corners, but Boyd induced a ground ball from Andrew Benintendi.

An inning-ending double play might have been a long shot, but a high throw to second from first baseman Jonathan Schoop left no play at first as Soler scored. Michael A. Taylor’s ensuing single sent Benintendi on his way to third, where Victor Reyes’ throw sailed past Jeimer Candelario and to the backstop for an unearned run.

Willi Castro halved Detroit’s deficit in the bottom of the inning with a solo homer, golfing a Singer sinker into the right-field seats for his first home run of the season on his 24th birthday. But two singles was all Singer allowed otherwise, pounding his sinker-slider combination into Detroit hitters for eight strikeouts and 10 groundouts.

Boyd retired his final 10 batters in relatively quick fashion following Taylor’s single, but he never pitched with a lead. He has allowed four earned runs on 13 hits in 22 innings over his past three starts, walking two and striking out 12, but has one win to show for it as the Tigers’ offensive struggles continue.

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