LAKELAND, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers beat the Baltimore Orioles, 10-3, on Thursday at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium.
The Tigers improved to 3-3 in Grapefruit League play.
Left-hander Matthew Boyd, entering his first full season since undergoing flexor tendon surgery at the end of the 2021 campaign, felt healthy coming off the mound after two innings in his first spring training game.
Boyd, who returned to the Tigers on a one-year contract this offseason, looked sharp in the Old English “D” against the Orioles, despite allowing one run. He gave up a solo home run to catcher Adley Rutschman, one of the best young players in baseball, in the first inning.
“We wanted to establish the fastball,” Boyd said. “We wanted pitch off it a little bit more, and then go to the changeup and slider when we wanted to. It was good.”
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The Tigers scored five runs in the fifth inning to take a 5-2 lead, capped by Spencer Torkelson’s RBI single on a grounder into left field. He ripped right-handed reliever Joey Krehbiel’s changeup below the strike zone with a 105.4 mph exit velocity.
It was Torkelson’s first hit of spring training, snapping an 0-for-10 stretch.
“Good swings,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “We put up better at-bats as the game went along. The young guys coming off the bench did a good job. It’s fun to see.”
Before Rutschman’s homer, Ryan McKenna drew a leadoff walk on six pitches. But Boyd, who commands respect for having one of the best pickoff moves, eliminated him at first base, which ended up saving a run.
After Rutschman’s homer, Boyd struck out Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg with sliders to end the first inning. He struck out Terrin Vavra and Connor Norby in the second inning, both with sliders.
Boyd pumped his fist following Norby’s strikeout.
“If you look back to the years that I’ve had a lot of success, a lot of it is based off of being able to throw that slider for a strike and also being able to expand with it in 0-2 or 1-2 counts,” Boyd said. “It’s big, and it’s the work that’s gone in mechanically to get that pitch back to that. We’re happy with where it’s at.”
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Boyd allowed one run on two hits and one walk with four strikeouts, throwing 23 of 37 pitches for strikes. His 10 sliders tantalized the Orioles by producing three whiffs and six called strikes.
He also collected two whiffs with his four-seam fastball.
It averaged 92.6 mph.
“I know he wanted to establish (his fastball) and couldn’t find the feel for strikes early,” Hinch said. “But it was good to see him mix his pitches later. Really good slider.”
At the plate
The Tigers’ five-run fifth inning started with Austin Meadows’ single off Krehbiel.
Two batters later, Tyler Nevin won a nine-pitch battle — although he swung below the strike zone at a pair of changeups — and crushed a low fastball for a three-run home run. He hit the ball with a 106.4 mph exit velocity.
Nevin’s second homer in as many games put the Tigers ahead, 3-2, then Andre Lipcius smacked a down-and-in fastball for a solo home run and a 4-2 advantage.
“You just feel more confident,” Nevin said. “Beats the alternative. It feels good to hit the barrel, and it feels good to feel comfortable.”
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Both Nevin and Lipcius, right-handed hitters, have two homers in spring and are competing for a platoon role alongside left-handed hitter Nick Maton at third base. Andy Ibáñez, who is competing for Team Cuba in the World Baseball Classic, is another right-handed hitting infielder in the mix for the opening.
“They are all stating a nice case to be included,” Hinch said. “Their strengths are very obvious. Nev has handled some right-handed pitching the last couple of days. That’s been good to see. … Defensive versatility is going to be really important.”
Ryan Kreidler, also in that mix, tacked on an RBI single in the seventh inning. He came around to score on Mario Feliciano’s RBI double. Those runs put the Tigers ahead 7-3.
But the offense wasn’t done.
With right-handed reliever Yennier Cano still on the mound, Parker Meadows destroyed a 97.2 mph fastball down the middle for a two-run home run to right-center. The ball, which traveled 423 feet, was impacted with a 104.5 mph exit velocity.
The younger Meadows hasn’t played above Double-A Erie but has two homers this spring.
Andrew Knapp, who opened the seventh with a triple, batted for the second time with two outs and the bases loaded. He worked the third straight walk against righty reliever Kade Strowd to push in another run.
In total, the Tigers scored five runs in the seventh for a 10-3 lead.
On the mound
Right-hander Brendan White pitched a scoreless third inning, followed by left-hander Chasen Shreve — a nine-year MLB veteran — giving up one run in the fourth.
Shreve allowed the first three batters to reach safely: Vavra (triple), Kyle Stowers (RBI single) and Ryan O’Hearn (walk). After the Orioles went ahead 2-0, Shreve escaped further damage by inducing a pop out, followed by an inning-ending double play.
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Right-hander Garrett Hill, battling for a bullpen role, allowed one run on one hit and three walks with two strikeouts over the fifth and sixth innings. He threw 21 of 46 pitches for strikes.
Back-to-back walks led to O’Hearn’s RBI double in the sixth, trimming the Tigers’ lead to 5-3.
Left-hander Miguel Del Pozo, lefty Jace Fry and righty Carlos Guzman pitched the final three innings without allowing a run.
1. Nevin; 2. Boyd; 3. Lipcius.
Friday (1:05 p.m.) vs. Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater; Friday (6:35 p.m.) vs. New York Yankees in Tampa.
Contact Evan Petzold at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.