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Boyd strong, but Tigers offensive woes continue

1-0 loss is Detroit's fourth of the season
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The last time Matthew Boyd won a game, he held the mighty Red Sox offense to two runs on June 7 at Fenway Park. He topped that on Friday, holding the Red Sox to one run. He remains winless thanks to David Price, the American League Cy Young winner for whom he was once traded, and the offense that struggled to support him.

"We did a heckuva job shutting them down offensively, and that doesn't happen very often," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said following Detroit's 1-0 loss. "They only scored one run tonight, and that team can really score. There's a lot of good things that happened, but the bottom line is we lost, and it doesn't feel very good in this clubhouse right now.

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DETROIT -- The last time Matthew Boyd won a game, he held the mighty Red Sox offense to two runs on June 7 at Fenway Park. He topped that on Friday, holding the Red Sox to one run. He remains winless thanks to David Price, the American League Cy Young winner for whom he was once traded, and the offense that struggled to support him.

"We did a heckuva job shutting them down offensively, and that doesn't happen very often," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said following Detroit's 1-0 loss. "They only scored one run tonight, and that team can really score. There's a lot of good things that happened, but the bottom line is we lost, and it doesn't feel very good in this clubhouse right now.

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"We need to win ball games. We need to find a way to get those big hits. And right now we're still not doing it."

Friday marked the Tigers' fourth 1-0 loss of the season, but their first since April, when spring's chilly beginning cooled Detroit's bats. But neither Michigan's midsummer heat nor the All-Star break has heated them up lately. The Tigers suffered their fifth shutout in the past month, and their Major League-leading 13th shutout of the season. Sunday's four-homer barrage off another ex-Tiger, Justin Verlander, was hoped to be a breakout, but Price had other plans in his first start against the Tigers since leaving Detroit at the 2015 non-waiver Trade Deadline -- a deal to Toronto that included Boyd. Price (11-6) not only retired the Tigers in order his first trip through Detroit's lineup, he recorded seven of nine outs in three pitches or less, following the mantra he cited often during his year-long Tigers tenure.

"The thing that makes him so good," said James McCann, Price's catcher for most of 2015 before becoming his opponent, "is his ball does different things. He's got his two-seamer, his four-seamer, his cutter, and those are all in the same velocity range. So you see it coming out of his hand, and you don't know if it's going to this way, or [another] way, or if it's gonna stay straight. That's why he gets the foul balls he gets. That's why he gets the weak contact."

That's also why, as quickly as he got into trouble in the fourth, he got out of it. Six pitches in, he had the bases loaded and nobody out on three singles. Three batters and some confusing baserunning later, he was out of it, including a strikeout of McCann. Price stranded runners at the corners in the fifth with a strikeout of Candelario before leaving with one out in the sixth.

Video: BOS@DET: Price works out of 0-out, bases-loaded jam

"The guy's been doing it a for a long, long time," Gardenhire said. "He's a good pitcher, and he knows how to move the ball around the plate. He made good pitches. But we also fouled some pitches off that we could have hit. So it goes both ways."

Boyd (4-9) was nearly as good, but in opposite fashion, allowing three of Boston's first four batters to reach base safely -- including Steve Pearce's RBI double -- before retiring 14 of his next 15 batters. As he headed back to the dugout following his first inning, McCann talked with him.

"We had a little bit of a slow tempo, and a couple pitches where we had some miscommunication," McCann said. "We talked about it between innings, that we need to get a better tempo going. Next thing you know, it's the fifth inning."

Video: BOS@DET: McCann throws out Lin at second

Boyd, pitching with four scouts in attendance, struck out six batters over five-plus innings, his stingiest outing since May 28. Still, with no offense to back him, he fell to 0-5 in his last six starts.

"Unfortunately, that run in the first was the deciding run," Boyd said. "That's the way it shakes out. The guy threw really well on the other side today. Hats off to him."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Chaos on the basepaths: On the scoresheet, Price's first out with the bases loaded in the fourth registered as a John Hicks fly out. But the Tigers missed a chance when Andrew Benintendi's throw home went toward the Tigers' on-deck circle instead. Niko Goodrum broke for home, then hesitated and backtracked. Jeimer Candelario thought he was going and was halfway to third when he didn't, but Price missed a chance to pick him off at second.

Video: BOS@DET: Holt leaves game with leg injury in the 4th

"He just kind of froze on it, and then he didn't pick up on the ball," Gardenhire said. "He froze on it, stopped around third, then he looked back to the bag instead of just following the ball. He didn't see it going all over the place."

SOUND SMART
Boyd entered Friday's start with the fourth-lowest hard-hit rate (95-plus-mph exit velocity according to Statcast™) among American League starters this season at 28.8 percent. He allowed four balls in play with an exit velocity over 95 mph on Friday, including Pearce's RBI double at 101.9 mph.

HE SAID IT
"His numbers and his contract speak for themselves." -- McCann, on Price

UP NEXT
With trade speculation building, Mike Fiers (6-6, 3.70 ERA) takes the mound to face old college buddy J.D. Martinez as the series continues Saturday with a 6:10 p.m. ET game at Comerica Park. Lefty Brian Johnson (1-2, 4.20) gets the start for the Red Sox.

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

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