Matthew Boyd deals again in Detroit Tigers’ 8-7 win over Minnesota Twins

Detroit Free Press

LAKELAND, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins, 8-7, on Sunday at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium.

The Tigers are 10-7 in Grapefruit League play.

What happened

Left-hander Matthew Boyd needs to keep doing what he’s doing.

“He was very good,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “He’s extra hard on himself that he wasn’t perfect, but I expect that with him. … Maybe a couple misfires with his (sinkers), but that’s nitpicking with that type of outing.”

His pitches are moving, his sequencing is superb and his execution is solid. The 32-year-old tossed four scoreless innings with six strikeouts, allowing just one hit and one walk, against the Twins.

Boyd, whom the Tigers signed to a one-year contract, has a 2.00 ERA with 17 strikeouts across nine innings in three spring training starts. His slider, in particular, has been effective inside and outside of the strike zone.

“The opportunity presented itself,” Boyd said of his slider. “We just rolled with it.”

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Right-handed reliever Alex Lange, who could be used as a closer this season, threw seven of 21 pitches for strikes and couldn’t get an out in the sixth inning. The 27-year-old gave up three walks and a three-run home run.

He was charged with a wild pitch between his first two walks.

Willi Castro, who played for the Tigers from 2019-22, hit the homer — on a fastball down the middle — to put the Twins on the scoreboard and cut the Tigers’ lead to 8-3.

“A lack of command,” Hinch said. “His body wasn’t going where he thought it was going, and he was all out of whack with his delivery. Every pitch gave a validation on that. We’ll get him back out there again on Tuesday.”

The Tigers turned to 6-foot-8, 300-pound right-hander R.J. Petit, called up from minor-league camp, to clean up the mess. He walked one batter but escaped without further damage on 10 total pitches.

Starting off

To set the tone, Boyd struck out the side in the first inning: Brooks Lee (79.8 mph slider), Trevor Larnach (79 mph slider) and Castro (80.2 mph slider).

He needed 12 pitches for the three outs.

Facing Castro, Boyd threw three different pitches. He tossed his curveball down the middle for a first-pitch strike, then induced a chase with his outside four-seam fastball and in-the-dirt slider.

“I’m a four-pitch pitcher,” Boyd said. “My goal is to use everything. It happened to be Willi, but we went to (the curveball) and went to it a few times in the fourth. It’s a good pitch.”

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Grayson Greiner, another ex-Tiger, came the closest to scoring against Boyd with two outs in the second inning. He tagged a second-pitch fastball for a 417-foot flyout to straightaway center field.

“I beat him with a fastball and tried to go back to it,” Boyd said. “He squared that up. I didn’t think that was going to happen, so props to him on that. But he hit it to the wrong spot of the park.”

Boyd issued his only walk to Lee in the third inning after getting ahead 1-2 in the count. He barely missed with his final pitch, a slider, on the outside part of the strike zone.

He recorded 12 whiffs: four fastballs, five sliders, two changeups and one curveball.

His fastball averaged 92.2 mph.

At the plate

The Tigers scored their runs early on: four in the first inning, three in the second inning and one in the third inning.

Twins right-hander Aaron Sanchez needed 51 pitches to get six outs. His two-seam fastball averaged 91.5 mph. The Tigers spent the afternoon crushing his fastball and cutter.

“I think our baserunning was really the standout part of the first inning,” Hinch said. “We had some really key reads. Obviously, you gotta have guys on base to do that, but the baserunning was a great takeaway. We’ve been working pretty hard on the baseball awareness.”

Jermaine Palacios collected two hits and crushed a 437-foot solo home run off left-hander Michael Boyle in the third inning.

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Ryan Kreidler went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, while Eric Haase and César Hernández each chipped in one hit and two RBIs. Hernández, a 10-year MLB veteran on a minor-league contract, is hitting .375 with six doubles in 10 games.

After Palacios’ homer, the Tigers failed to score in the final six innings.

On the mound

Right-hander Garrett Hill pitched a scoreless fifth inning with two strikeouts. The second-to-last pitch of his outing, a four-seam fastball, was thrown at 97.2 mph. He came back with a 96.3 mph sinker for his final pitch.

His four-seamer averaged 94.3 mph.

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After Lange’s disaster, right-hander Matt Wisler struggled again in the seventh inning, both in the velocity and execution departments. He allowed four runs on three hits and two walks, recording two outs.

Those runs cut the Tigers’ lead to 8-7.

Righty Dario Gardea, from minor-league camp, struck out Misael Urbina on four pitches to complete the seventh inning.

Two relievers — righties Jason Foley and Trey Wingenter — entered to protect a one-run advantage and pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to complete the game.

Wingenter recorded five whiffs on 10 swings.

Three stars

1. Boyd; 2. Palacios; 3. Kreidler.

Next up

Monday (1:05 p.m.) vs. Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg; Monday (1:05 p.m.) vs. Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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