Matthew Boyd put together another outstanding outing on Saturday, but it was wasted in a pitcher’s duel with the Kansas City Royals’ Brady Singer as the Tigers fell 2-1.
Boyd and Singer locked up for a pretty good pitching matchup in this one, as each spun four scoreless frames to start their respective outings. Boyd got a groundball out to begin the game, and then punched out Carlos Santana and Salvador Perez to complete the first. Singer returned serve with a flyout and a pair of strikeouts of his own, and they were off to the races. There wasn’t a hit in this one until a leadoff single by Harold Castro in the third inning. Meanwhile, Boyd didn’t allow a baserunner until the fifth inning.
It was an interesting outing for Boyd, who leads all left-handed starters in strikeouts since 2019. As he’s done more this year, Boyd attacked Royals hitters with quality strikes out of the heart of the plate and poured it on when he was ahead, forcing a lot of weak contact. An eight pitch third inning, followed by a ten pitch fourth had his pitch count in excellent shape.
It’s hard to call anything a turning point when your offense is putting up another putrid performance, but if there was one point where the game slipped from the Tigers grasp it was a called ball on the fifth pitch of a Jorge Soler AB to lead off the fifth inning. Boyd poured in a nasty front door changeup in the corner but Wilson Ramos pulled it out of the zone a bit and Soler got a reprieve. Boyd tried to double up with a changeup away, and Soler one-hopped it off the left field wall for a double.
Boyd got Hunter Dozier on a line out to left, but then allowed a Hanser Alberto single to left field that moved Soler to third. Boyd appeared to have a potential double play ball off the bat of Andrew Benintendi to first, but Jonathan Schoop had to leave his feet to haul in the bouncing ball and threw high to second where they got just the one out. Turning the double play would’ve been tough with Benintendi running either way. Soler raced home with the game’s first run. Michael A. Taylor followed with a single to center field and Victor Reyes, trying to gun down Benintendi at third, threw into the runner and the ball skipped off Benintendi to the wall, allowing him to score as well.
Just like that, the game was decided. Boyd needed just 12 pitches in the sixth, seven pitches in the seventh, and just six pitches in the eighth to retire the side. Rather than fishing for strikeouts, he simply kept the pressure on the Royals, getting ahead in counts and continuing to throw quality strikes on the edges. He was rewarded again and again with weak contact, and could’ve gone nine in this one with little trouble.
He was not rewarded with run support.
Willi Castro managed to turn and lift a solo home run, his first of the year, into the seats in right field to lead off the bottom of the fifth. For a moment there, you could imagine the Tigers bouncing right back, but instead they never mounted even a shred of a threat, going in order over the final four frames. Singer pitched well, and like Boyd, made few mistakes over the middle, but the Tigers helped him by swinging through fastball after fastball, making little but weak contact.
A.J. Hinch tried to shake up the lineup a bit by batting Akil Baddoo in the two hole in this one, but he responded with three strikeouts. Singer finished with seven innings in the books and just one run on three hits allowed, while punching out eight. The Tigers didn’t draw or issue a walk in this one.
Jose Cisnero cruised through the top of the ninth in relief, recording a pair of strikeouts, but the Royals turned to hard-throwing Josh Staumont for the ninth, and he had no trouble at all putting this one to bed. Adam Dubbin’s preview proved ominously accurate.