Just when everyone was starting to let themselves feel good about the Detroit Tigers, Matthew Boyd provided a bit of a reality check on Friday night with one of the worst outings of his career. We’ve seen some bad ones, but the left-hander was knocked out of the game with only four outs recorded and the rest went as you’d expect as the Mariners rolled over the Tigers 9-2 in this best-of-three at Comerica Park.
From the start, Boyd had little idea where anything was going and grew ever more shy of the strike zone as his outing progressed. He walked J.P. Crawford on four straight fastballs to start the game. Ty France ripped a single to center field, moving Crawford to third, and the Mariners were in business.
Julio Rodriguez popped out, but Jarred Kelenic laced a single through the infield to score Crawford. The Tigers caught a bit of a break when Kelenic was caught leaning off first. Boyd fired to Spencer Torkelson and the first baseman threw it to Jonathan Schoop who ran Kelenic down. An Eugenio Suarez soft tapper later and Boyd was out of the inning. Despite running up his pitch count, that could have been a new lease on his outing. It did not work out that way.
The Tigers got a two-out double from Riley Greene in their half of the inning, but Torkelson bounced out and that’s when everything fell apart.
Boyd started the second inning by whiffing Teoscar Hernandez on a slider down and in, and it looked like maybe he was pulling it together. Back-to-back walks to Tom Murphy and AJ Pollock quickly dispelled that notion. Chris Fetter came out to try and settle Boyd down but it didn’t help. Jose Caballero singled to right field to load the bases, and Crawford followed with a hot shot that squirted under Schoop’s glove for a single to score Murphy. Boyd then walked Ty France. Julio Rodriguez lined a single to left to score Caballero and Crawford, and it was 5-0 with only two or three hard hit balls.
Mason Englert took over and got a grounder to first that scored Ty France. Tork fired to second to get Rodriguez, but Javy Báez probably should have held the ball and instead uncorked a wild throw trying to end the inning. Englert then walked Suarez, yes this was the most excruciating inning we’ve seen in a while, but got Teoscar Hernandez to fly out to mercifully end the inning.
The Tigers went quickly in the bottom of the second, and Englert got through the third with no issues. A one-out single from Schoop in the bottom of the third went nowhere, and now the game was racing along as Englert got through the fourth with just nine pitches, despite an Andy Ibáñez throwing error. Ibáñez came up with a two-out single in the fourth, but Eric Haase flew out.
Will Vest took over from Englert in the fifth, and whether this game was already lost or not, the really frustrating thing about Boyd’s outing wasn’t the result so much as the fact that it burned the bullpen in the first game of the series, after a day off where they finally all got some rest after a lot of recent work whenever Eduardo Rodriguez hasn’t been on the mound. Vest has been a big help since his return from Toledo, and he had no issues in the fifth.
The Tigers finally mustered some offense in the bottom half of the inning as Marco Gonzales walked Miguel Cabrera to lead off the inning. Schoop’s luck stayed true as he lined one to Rodriguez in center field, but Jake Rogers got a fastball up on the inner half in a 2-2 count and lifted a pretty majestic home run into the seats in left. 6-2 Seattle.
The Tigers got a Báez single, but no more, and it was on to the sixth. Tyler Holton took over from Vest and racked up three quick outs. In the bottom half, Torkelson and Ibáñez flew out and Haase grounded out to end the inning.
Holton allowed a pair of singles in the seventh, and with Teoscar Hernandez coming up, Hinch turned to Jose Cisnero to keep the score where it was. Cisnero got ahead 0-2, but just couldn’t break off a good slider to Hernandez. He eventually went back to the fastball and Hernandez pulled a ground ball through the left side for an RBI single. Tom Murphy popped out to end the half inning and send everyone into the stretch.
The bottom of the seventh opened with Trevor Gott finally taking over for Marco Gonzales. Gott walked Cabrera, his second walk of the day, but Nick Maton pinch-hit for Schoop and quickly flew out, while Rogers struck out. Hinch put McKinstry in for Vierling and he responded by lining a single to right field, but Báez popped out to end the minor threat.
Tyler Alexander spun a quick top of the eighth, and the Tigers finally mustered a real threat in the bottom half. Riley Greene grounded a single back up the middle, and then Torkelson chopped a tapper back to the mound, but Topa threw it away trying to start the double play. Greene advanced to the third, and the Tigers finally had a little something cooking. It didn’t last long as Akil Baddoo flew out softly to center pinch-hitting for Ibáñez, and then Haase grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Meh, but hey, might as well save them for tomorrow at that point.
The Mariners put the finishing touches on this one when France led off the top of the ninth with a single and Julio Rodriguez lofted a fly ball over the wall in right to make it 9-2. Alexander struck out Kelenic and Suarez, and Hernandez flew out to send it to the bottom of the ninth.
Zack Short got into the game as Hinch continued their policy of using the whole bench, but he and Cabrera grounded out, and Rogers struck out swinging to end it.
The Tigers have a long way to go yet, and there will be days like this, but it was a bit of a deflating loss after the past two series.
Things won’t get easier as the Mariners will run out a strong rookie starter in RHP Bryce Miller on Saturday at 1:10 p.m. ET against Alex Faedo. RHP Logan Gilbert will be an imposing foe on Sunday for Joey Wentz.