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Lucky 13: Boyd racks up K's vs. White Sox

Three homers highlight 15-hit attack as Detroit scores in each of last six frames
@Russ_Dorsey1
July 4, 2019

CHICAGO -- No one knows how long Matthew Boyd will remain a member of the Detroit Tigers, but it hasn’t stopped him from continuing to be one of baseball's best starters. After Boyd struggled in June and suffered through his worst statistical month of the season, he kicked off July

CHICAGO -- No one knows how long Matthew Boyd will remain a member of the Detroit Tigers, but it hasn’t stopped him from continuing to be one of baseball's best starters.

After Boyd struggled in June and suffered through his worst statistical month of the season, he kicked off July with an excellent start.

Box score

“It wasn’t weighing on me, but it’s nice to win,” Boyd said. “It’s nice to high-five after a start.”

The left-hander tied his career high with 13 strikeouts in the Tigers’ 11-5 victory over the White Sox on Thursday afternoon, capping his All Star-caliber first half.

Boyd started reverting to his previous form in his last start. Even though he threw just 5 1/3 innings on Thursday, the stuff was as nasty as its been all season long.

"Boyd did a nice job,” White Sox manager Ricky Renteria said. “Good fastball, got up to 93 mph. Slider that was going underneath on the righties, obviously kept us at bay for quite a bit. Guys were trying to get to him, but he did a nice job of keeping us on the ropes."

The Tigers’ ace got 21 swings and misses on 106 pitches in his sixth win of the season.

“You just watch their approach and you watch their takes. Establish it,” Boyd said. “You go with what they’re giving you. We stuck with the heater a little more.”

Boyd’s four-seam fastball averaged 93.2 mph, almost two mph more than his season average.

“I think every outing, the fastball for him is very key. Obviously, everyone talks about the slider, but the fastball sets up the slider,” Tigers catcher John Hicks said. “He had a good one today.”

As scouts continue to attend Boyd's starts with the July 31 Trade Deadline just four weeks away, his ability to get strikes with all five of his pitches is what has contending teams salivating.

Three years of club control after the 2019 season doesn’t hurt either.

It was Boyd’s fourth start of 10 or more strikeouts this season and the fifth of his career. It was also the second time this season he’s had double-digit strikeouts in back-to-back starts (March 29 vs. Blue Jays, April 3 vs. Yankees).

“I don’t know about everyone else, but I love it. Makes me feel like I’m calling the right pitch,” Hicks said with a laugh. “He’s been striking out a ton of guys all year. There’s a reason he’s top-five in strikeouts.”

Boyd finishes the first half of the season with 142 strikeouts, the fourth most by a Tigers left-hander since 1933, and the most since Mickey Lolich struck out 156 prior to the All-Star break in ‘72.

Boyd’s 13 strikeouts on Thursday tied him for the most on July 4 in the live-ball era, joining Billy O'Dell, Craig Swan, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan and Curt Schilling. He also became the first pitcher in the live-ball era with 13 strikeouts and zero walks in an outing of six innings or fewer.

“Really? That’s interesting,” Boyd said of his new milestone. “Hopefully this is the last time I get 13 strikeouts in no walks in less than six innings. Hopefully, next time I get 13 strikeouts and no walks in seven, eight or nine innings.”

Bats come alive

Unable to score enough to get rookie Tyler Alexander victory in his Major League debut on Wednesday, the Tigers wouldn’t let Boyd suffer the same fate.

Detroit’s offense picked up where it left off in Game 2 of Wednesday’s doubleheader, as the Tigers were all over White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez, with the help of homers from Miguel Cabrera, Jeimer Candelario and Niko Goodrum.

“We used the whole field. We weren’t trying to yank everything,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We actually used the whole field and shot the ball the other way. There were a bunch of them going down the right-field line. That’s good hitting. We talk about that a lot and today was one of those good days.”

The Tigers cranked out 15 hits and scored at least one run in each of the last six innings, putting up 11 runs for just the second time this season. The last time coming in a 12-11 loss to the White Sox on April 26.

Worth noting

The Tigers are placing reliever Victor Alcántara on the 10-day injured list with a tooth injury. Gardenhire said Alcantara will have a procedure to correct a lingering issue.

Alcantara is 3-1 with a 4.62 ERA in 40 games for the Tigers this season. The team will make a corresponding move prior to Friday’s game vs. Boston.

Russell Dorsey is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @Russ_Dorsey1.