Detroit – One of Matthew Boyd’s hallmark traits is his willingness to attack hitters in the strike zone. Strike-throwing is as much a part of his pitcher DNA as his slider and changeup.
He wasn’t that guy Friday night. Not for a minute.
“From the very beginning he looked uncomfortable,” manager AJ Hinch said after the Seattle Mariners coasted to a 9-2 win over the Tigers in the first of three at Comerica Park. “He couldn’t really sync up his delivery. A four-pitch walk to start the game probably tells us everything we need to know. It didn’t look like he was in control of anything.”
Pitching against his hometown Seattle Mariners, the team he finished last season with, ended up walking as many hitters as he got out (four), including leadoff hitter J.P. Crawford on four pitches to start the game.
“I just felt out of rhythm,” Boyd said. “That hasn’t happened in a really long time. Why it happened, I don’t really know. But the adjustments I’ve been making weren’t enough.”
He only got three batters out. The other he picked off first base. He gave up a run in the first and five in the second, one of them unearned.
BOX SCORE: Mariners 9, Tigers 2
“It was uncharacteristic of me to spray the ball around the zone like I did,” he said.
Of his 55 pitches, 28 were strikes and 27 were balls.
“I started out a little slow in my delivery,” Boyd said. “Then I tried to speed up and I overcorrected and ended up being a little fast. I was only hitting on one of three pitches. Like I said, that hasn’t happened in a long time.”
And still, he nearly escaped the five-run second inning without a scratch.
More: Tigers change course, place Spencer Turnbull on IL after tests show neck injury
He gave up an RBI single to left-handed hitting Jarred Kelenic in the first inning, then picked him off first to quell the first threat.
He struck out Teoscar Hernandez to start the second. But he walked Rob Murphy and AJ Pollack (who was hitting .138) and gave up a soft single to No. 9 hitter Jose Cabellero. With the bases loaded, Crawford hit a rocket, 106.5 mph off the bat, but directly at second baseman Jonathan Schoop.
It was a tough chance, but one we have seen Schoop often make. Instead of an inning-ending double-play, though, the ball bounced off Schoop – single, RBI.
“That’s a tough one,” Hinch said. “I don’t know if I’d say Schoop ‘should’ve’ made that play. He’s selling out there. The ball’s hit right at him at over 100 mph. I think the inning was created by the walks and then you have to find some miracle to get out of it.
“That’s a tough play.”
Boyd walked Ty France to force in another run and Julio Rodriguez ended Boyd’s night with a two-run single.
“We will get back on the mound a couple of times this week,” said Boyd, whose next start will be pushed back a couple of days because the Tigers have two off days next week. “I’m very confident how we’re going ahead from here. This is going to be one of my best years in the big leagues. I don’t doubt that.
More: McCosky: Trade him? Extend him? It’s too early to devise plans for Tigers’ Rodriguez
“I said it this spring and I know it right now. We’re just going to go out there and drill it home this week and get back to it.”
Rodriguez struck again in the top of the ninth, slicing an opposite-field, two-run home run inside the foul pole in right off Tyler Alexander − a four-RBI night for the reigning American League Rookie of the Year.
The only pushback from the Tigers’ offense was a bullet, two-run home run by Jake Rogers. He hit an 89-mph, four-seam fastball off Mariners’ lefty starter Marco Gonzales 402 feet beyond the bullpen in left field.
The two-run shot was Rogers’ fifth homer.