Cincinnati Reds get big swings vs. Matthew Boyd, Joe Jimenez to beat Detroit Tigers, 7-4

Detroit Free Press

CINCINNATI — Reliever Joe Jimenez had a chance to keep Saturday’s game close, entering in the seventh inning with the Detroit Tigers trailing by one run.

Manager AJ Hinch needed Jimenez to face the heart of the Cincinnati Reds’ order: Nick Castellanos, Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez. After working a 2-0 count, Castellanos hacked at a slider and went back to the dugout after a flyout.

Votto and Suarez, though, each drew full-count walks. Pinch-hitter Tyler Naquin made Jimenez pay for his inability to throw strikes by ripping a two-run triple past diving first baseman Miguel Cabrera. The ball rolled into the right-field corner.

The Reds took a three-run lead and never looked back. The Tigers were handed a 7-4 loss in the second of three games at Great American Ball Park.

“He’s trying to be efficient,” Hinch said about Jimenez’s 22-pitch appearance. “He’s trying to pound the strike zone. Sometimes it’s delivery, sometimes it’s approach. When the inning stretches and gets long … anybody’s going to be a little less sharp than they are at the beginning of the inning.

“We’re seeing a little too much of that right now, but the good version is still in there. We got to keep trying to find ways to unlock it.”

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Cincinnati reliever Mychal Givens pitched the ninth inning. The Tigers (64-72) threatened with Robbie Grossman’s single, but Givens struck out Jonathan Schoop and got Cabrera to bounce into a game-ending double play.

Making his second start for the Tigers since returning from the injured list, Matthew Boyd gave up five runs on seven hits and two walks over four innings. The left-hander labored through his outing, needing 22 pitches in the first inning, 25 in the second and 23 in the third before a cleaner 13-pitch fourth frame.

All five runs Boyd allowed came in the third inning.

“I know what I need to do going forward,” Boyd said. “I know the best is right ahead of me. This doesn’t really mean much, but I threw some of the best sliders I did all year. I threw some of the best curveballs, even threw some of the best fastballs all year. … There’s a lot of good to take. My best is right ahead of me, and I know it. I’m just going to continue to build and be ready when the ball is given to me next.”

The Tigers went to their bullpen earlier than expected but received scoreless innings from Alex Lange and Jose Cisnero before Jimenez imploded in the seventh. Right-hander Drew Carlton took over for Jimenez, making his MLB debut.

Carlton threw one pitch — a curveball — for the final out in the seventh, getting Delino DeShields to fly out to right field.

Miguel Del Pozo pitched a scoreless eighth inning.

Haase hits No. 20

Before slugger Eric Haase made noise for the first time since Aug. 13, the Tigers set him up with two base runners: Schoop doubled and Cabrera drew a walk in a full count.

Reds starter Tyler Mahle struck out switch-hitter Jeimer Candelario for the second out, but the right-hander couldn’t fool Haase. Given a 96 mph four-seam fastball down the middle, Haase slugged a home run to left-center for a 3-0 lead in the third inning.

With a 107.3 mph exit velocity, the ball traveled 408 feet.

“Kind of got that monkey off my back,” Haase said about hitting his 20th home run. “It’s been a while since I homered. Stretch of bad luck with the IL and wasting them in Toledo (during a rehab assignment), but I’ve been having a lot better at-bats lately trying to find my rhythm again.”

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The 28-year-old rookie is hitting .236 with 20 home runs, 53 RBIs, 19 walks and 92 strikeouts over 78 games this season, adding 10 doubles and one triple. Back in July, Haase was named American League Rookie of the Month.

Haase entered Saturday hitting .200 (5-for-25) with four strikeouts since returning Aug. 27 from the injured list. He missed time with a right abdominal strain and hadn’t displayed his pre-IL power, but that changed in the third inning.

“The overall pace of play in the big leagues is just a little different,” Haase said. “Guys are a little bit sharper, a little more crisp. You don’t get nearly as many pitches to hit. That first week, I was fouling off way too many pitches. The last couple games, it’s been back to what I was doing earlier in the year.”

Mahle conceded four runs on six hits and five walks over five innings, striking out eight and throwing 106 pitches (66 strikes). In the fifth, the Tigers trimmed Cincinnati’s lead to one run, 5-4, on Dustin Garneau’s RBI walk.

Garneau fell behind 0-2 in the count, drew three consecutive balls for a full count and then fouled away three in a row. On the ninth pitch of the plate appearance, Mahle missed the strikeout for a bases-loaded walk.

“Haase had a really big swing against him,” Hinch said. “We had some disciplined at-bats but couldn’t quite get that extra hit to maybe knock him out in the middle part of the game. He pitched out of some traffic. He competes out there. That in itself is what you expect when you go up against a guy with pretty good numbers.”

Reds sting Boyd in 3rd

Not long after Haase ignited the Tigers, the Reds stuck back.

The Reds made Boyd throw 47 pitches through two innings, but they didn’t have anything to show for their efforts. Entering the bottom of the third, the top of the batting order was due up for the second time.

Boyd recorded his first out quickly, but his outing quickly went downhill. Tyler Stephenson (single) and Castellanos (double) reached scoring position. Votto’s ensuing RBI single put Cincinnati on the board — the first of five runs in the inning.

Suarez drilled a sacrifice fly to center field for the second run, cutting the Tigers’ advantage to 3-2.

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After another single, the Reds had runners on first and second base for Aristides Aquino with two outs. He tagged Boyd’s first-pitch slider 371 feet to left field for a three-run homer and a 5-3 lead.

“That’s a three-run mistake,” Boyd said. “That’s the difference in the ballgame. It’s a good hitting team. They hit the mistakes when I missed.”

Boyd remained in the game — including an at-bat in the fourth with a single to left-center — and returned to the mound for his final inning. He worked around Jonathan India’s one-out single to complete the fourth on 13 pitches, finishing his night by striking out Castellanos with a slider.

“We need him to get in the strike zone from the beginning of the game,” Hinch said. “He did make some really big pitches that allowed him to escape some innings. Even the inning they got him, he had to come up with some big pitches.”

Castellanos finished 1-for-3 with a double and two strikeouts against Boyd, his former teammate when he played for the Tigers from 2013-19. (Boyd joined the Tigers in 2015 via a trade from the Toronto Blue Jays.)

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzoldRead more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter

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