MINNEAPOLIS -- The 2018 season has been a breakout year of sorts for Matthew Boyd, as the left-hander has posted a career high in innings and games started while posting the top ERA by a starter still on Detroit's roster.The 27-year-old Boyd wasn't able to close out the campaign on
MINNEAPOLIS -- The 2018 season has been a breakout year of sorts for Matthew Boyd, as the left-hander has posted a career high in innings and games started while posting the top ERA by a starter still on Detroit's roster.
The 27-year-old Boyd wasn't able to close out the campaign on a high note, though, as the Twins ambushed him in the early innings on Wednesday and handed the Tigers an 11-4 loss at Target Field in Boyd's final outing of the year.
Boyd finished with a line of six runs on eight hits over 3 2/3 innings. He ends the year with 159 strikeouts, good for the second most by a Detroit left-hander since Mickey Lolich in 1974.
But his command eluded him on Wednesday, and the Twins took advantage of several missed spots.
"We swung the bats early, it looked like it was gonna be one of those ballgames," Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Then all of a sudden, we just kind of fell apart defensively and pitching-wise. Tough night."
The Tigers' offense went to work early against Minnesota starter Jake Odorizzi, and Christin Stewart crushed an RBI triple off the center-field fence to give Detroit an early 1-0 lead. But Minnesota taxed Boyd for three runs in the first inning, including a two-run homer from Christopher Austin, and he never found his rhythm from there.
"I wanted to help our team win today and didn't make the adjustments I needed to," Boyd said. "I got away from my game plan a little bit, and unfortunately it cost us the game. … It definitely wasn't the game plan that was the problem. It was just mechanical. I just wasn't able to command the ball."
Niko Goodrum and James McCann each picked up an RBI single in the third, and Detroit loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth, chasing Odorizzi in the process. Stewart lifted a sacrifice fly that tied the game at 4 at the time, but that was all the offense the Tigers got out of the inning as Tyler Duffey escaped the jam for Minnesota.
The Twins took immediate advantage and took a 6-4 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Johnny Field hit his second homer of the night off Boyd. An inning later, Minnesota busted the game open when Jorge Polanco smashed a bases-clearing triple to make it 11-4.
The Tigers nearly avoided that fifth-inning implosion entirely; with nobody out and runners on first and second, Willians Astudillo hit a line drive directly at Tigers' second baseman Dawel Lugo, who flipped the ball to the second-base bag, where Ronny Rodriguez was positioned to double off Robbie Grossman. Rodriguez received the ball and fired to first, nearly nabbing Austin for what would have been a triple play. But Goodrum was unable to hold onto the ball.
After the Twins challenged the out call at second, home-plate umpire Jansen Visconti declared that Rodriguez had actually missed second base, so Detroit came away from the play having only recorded one out, despite Gardenhire's protests.
"Really, of course we couldn't do anything about it," Gardenhire said. "I argued and tried to figure out something. But there's no chance."
With his season in the books, Boyd ended 2018 as one of the American League's most improved pitchers in the second half of the season. He posted a 3.88 ERA after the All-Star break -- compared to 4.76 pre-All-Star before the break -- and struck out 72 batters in 72 innings in that span.
HE SAID IT
"It's been great. He's been great. Just a competitor. The guy never wants to come out of a ballgame. No one will feel worse than him about this ballgame and this start. He'll come back out trying to figure out how to make it better. That's kind of who he is and what he does." -- Gardenhire, on Boyd's season
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
In the bottom of the fourth, Field hit a sharp line drive that appeared to bounce off the top of the left-field wall. The hit was initially ruled a double, but after a brief video review, the call was overturned, and Field was awarded a two-run homer, giving Minnesota 6-4 lead. According to Statcast™, the ball traveled an estimated 353 feet.
The Tigers will close out their three-game set with the Twins on Thursday with first pitch set for 8:10 p.m. ET. Francisco Liriano (5-11, 4.40 ERA) will get the nod for Detroit and face the team for which he made his big league debut 13 years ago. Gabriel Moya (3-1, 4.72 ERA) will start for Minnesota.
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.