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Boyd's trials continue, Tigers' rally falls short

Lefty allows 7 runs (6 ER) as Detroit loses third straight
July 5, 2018

DETROIT -- The surprising start to the season that propelled Matthew Boyd into trade rumors a few weeks ago has faded a bit. Joey Gallo's long drive to right field on Thursday evening did not. His tape-measure two-run homer propelled early offense for the Rangers, sending the Tigers to their

DETROIT -- The surprising start to the season that propelled Matthew Boyd into trade rumors a few weeks ago has faded a bit. Joey Gallo's long drive to right field on Thursday evening did not. His tape-measure two-run homer propelled early offense for the Rangers, sending the Tigers to their third straight loss with a 7-5 defeat at Comerica Park.
"I missed with the slider. That's what happened today," Boyd said of Gallo's homer, one of a pair of two-run homers the lefty allowed.
Boyd didn't miss all the time. He arguably had more success with the slider than his other pitches, including the fastball. The problem, bench coach Steve Liddle said, was that he threw too many and didn't execute some of them.
"They sat the whole time on breaking stuff and he never repeated a fastball," Liddle said. "They made the adjustment to him and he never made the adjustment back."
According to Statcast™, Boyd threw a near-even split of fastballs (28) and sliders (29), with nearly the same number put in play. But seven of his nine swinging strikes came off the slider, which is why he turned to it in a pinch.
The ones he missed on pinched him. None proved bigger than the hanging slider to Gallo, who swung and missed at a 2-0 slider over the plate but didn't miss the one middle-up on the next pitch. The resulting drive traveled 453 feet, according to Statcast™, clearing the right-field bleachers and landing on the concourse above.
The skies opened as Isiah Kiner-Falefa's ground ball up the middle skipped off Niko Goodrum's glove for an RBI single in the fourth, before crew chief Jerry Meals called for the tarp. Once play resumed after a 29-minute rain delay, Boyd fell behind on Ronald Guzman with curveballs, but got back to 2-2 before leaving another slider above the knees, this time on the outer half of the plate.
Guzman's homer built a 7-0 lead and extended two troubling recent trends for Boyd. His third loss in four starts, separated by a tough-luck no-decision in Toronto last weekend, featured his fourth and fifth home runs in that span, compared to six homers allowed over his first 13 outings.
Unlike those previous outings, however, lefties did the damage to Boyd on Thursday. The Rangers balanced their lineup, alternating lefties and righties against a southpaw who had held left-handed batters to a .216 average, a .624 OPS and just two homers allowed entering Thursday. He allowed no home runs to lefties in the Majors last year.
According to Liddle, Rangers hitters defied the game plan with what they did off the breaking pitches.
"You have to recognize what you're trying to do to other teams, and you have to recognize what they're trying to do to you," Liddle said. "It's a cat-and-mouse-type game, and he's not a strikeout pitcher, so he has to use all of his pitches effectively to keep them off-balance."
Boyd realized the balance, but said it came down to execution.
"Really, the only thing was sticking with the fastball a little longer," he said. "I wish I would've thrown a few better sliders right there to get strikeouts rather than two-run home runs. That's a difference."

Boyd garnered seven swinging strikes off his slider, but still yielded seven runs (six earned) on seven hits over four innings. He has allowed 20 earned runs over his last four starts, after yielding just 27 over his first 13 outings. His ERA has risen from 3.23 to 4.58. Yet Thursday marked his first outing since June 13 at home, where he had generally been effective all season.
The Tigers attempted to rally. John Hicks, Jim Adduci and Ronny Rodriguez hit RBI singles for a three-run bottom half of the fourth, before Goodrum turned on an inside fastball and sent it down the right-field line for a leadoff homer in the sixth. Still, Yovani Gallardo (3-0) contained the damage enough for 5 1/3 innings and his third consecutive win.

Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire missed Thursday's game following dehydration symptoms and a stomach virus that forced him out of the dugout during Wednesday's loss at the Cubs. Gardenhire said before Thursday's game that he was better, but still not at full strength. With hot, humid conditions, doctors recommended he give it another day before returning in what is forecast to be drier, milder weather Friday night.
"The doctor told Ron, 'Hey, you're still weak. You need to just hold off. Just sit up here again,'" Liddle said.
Snapped bat: Detroit made one final push in the ninth, opening the inning with three consecutive baserunners and bringing the potential winning run to the plate, but Rangers closer Keone Kela retired the top of the Tigers' lineup in order for his 21st save, including a strikeout of Nicholas Castellanos and a game-ending, broken-bat comebacker from Goodrum.
"Heater," Goodrum said. "He got me."

Boyd entered Thursday with the third-lowest hard-hit rate allowed among AL pitchers, with just 28.3 percent of batted balls off him with a 95-plus-mph exit velocity. The Rangers hit seven balls off Boyd with that exit velocity Thursday.
Jordan Zimmermann (3-0, 3.91 ERA) is unbeaten in 10 starts this season, and has tossed 12 innings of one-run ball in his last two outings. He gets the ball Friday as this series continues with a 7:10 p.m. ET start at Comerica Park. Bartolo Colon (5-5, 4.76) starts for Texas.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.