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Boyd's strong start helps Tigers claim series win

MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- Matthew Boyd credits a talk with Hall of Famer Jack Morris on the Tigers' Winter Caravan with helping his aggressive approach to hitters. On the day the Tigers honored Morris by retiring his No. 47, Boyd tried to pay tribute with his performance.

"He probably doesn't like me going six," Boyd joked after his one-run outing in Sunday's 4-2 win over the Twins at Comerica Park.

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DETROIT -- Matthew Boyd credits a talk with Hall of Famer Jack Morris on the Tigers' Winter Caravan with helping his aggressive approach to hitters. On the day the Tigers honored Morris by retiring his No. 47, Boyd tried to pay tribute with his performance.

"He probably doesn't like me going six," Boyd joked after his one-run outing in Sunday's 4-2 win over the Twins at Comerica Park.

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He was kidding, he emphasized. Well, probably.

"I know Jack's yelling at me because I took him out after six," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I wanted to do that just to irritate him on his day."

Morris, author of 175 complete games in his big league career, talked Sunday about slamming the ball in Sparky Anderson's hand when he came out with the hook for him. He talked with Boyd on Sunday morning, something pitchers don't often do on start days.

Morris might have at least been touched by the reaction Boyd gave when Gardenhire pulled him after six innings of one-run, two-hit ball.

"I can't even tell you what he told me," Gardenhire said. "It was great, one of the greatest lines ever. It was beautiful. That's exactly what you want as a manager. You want a guy to fight for staying out there."

He had a case. Minutes after Morris' pregame ceremony and the unveiling of his retired number on Comerica Park's brick wall, Boyd (7-10) took the mound with a quick first inning before Mitch Garver's triple just out of JaCoby Jones' reach set up a Johnny Field sacrifice fly in the second. Boyd retired 15 of his final 16 batters from there, including 13 in a row before Logan Forsythe drew a sixth-inning walk.

Boyd kept it there, finishing the sixth at 88 pitches. He went into the seventh with the same count two starts ago against the Reds, finishing at 105 pitches over eight scoreless innings. At that point, Gardenhire said he'd rather give his bullpen a clean inning to work with than have them enter with a leadoff man on.

Boyd wasn't giving the details of what he said, either. But it fit into the Morris mindset he picked up during their talk in January.

"The biggest thing, the theme around everything was compete," Boyd explained. "You go out there and you take the ball and you compete every single pitch. You don't get pushed around. You don't get disrespected. You go out there and you put your team in a position to win every single time. You be that presence out there. That's what he was.

"It stuck with me. He was the ultimate competitor. That's why his plaque is now on the wall in Cooperstown. I'm just grateful for everything I learned from him."

That message was reinforced when they talked Sunday morning.

"Getting to talk to him before the game was really special," said Boyd, who has won three of his last four starts. "He told me he's going to get me in line every year. Every offseason, he's going to have to get me in line. I said I'm all ears for that."

Detroit's offense had similar frustrations against Twins starter Kohl Stewart in his Major League debut before stringing together four singles and a bases-loaded walk for a three-run fifth inning. Victor Martinez's sacrifice fly on an 0-2 pitch from lefty reliever Taylor Rogers provided a key run.

Video: MIN@DET: Martinez lifts a sacrifice fly to right

Max Kepler's eighth-inning home run off Joe Jimenez, his first homer allowed at Comerica Park this season, cut the lead to one before Ronny Rodriguez's RBI double in the bottom of the eighth restored a two-run gap for Shane Greene's 25th save.

Video: MIN@DET: Greene K's Garver to pick up 25th save

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Iglesias beats out single: Jose Iglesias' 18th infield hit of the year proved to be a crucial catalyst in the Tigers' rally. He battled out of an 0-2 count for a 10-pitch at-bat before hitting a chopper to third that Ehire Adrianza sat back on, giving Iglesias the split second he needed to beat the throw and load the bases ahead of Niko Goodrum's go-ahead walk.

Video: MIN@DET: Iglesias reaches on infield single

"That was a really good battle," Stewart said. "Me and Garver were thinking about what route to go there. He just wasn't squaring up my sinker. He was fouling it off into his foot. He's either gonna swing and miss there, or he's gonna hit a ground ball to third or short. Ten-pitch at-bat, we probably threw seven or eight sinkers. Maybe we can go back, hindsight is 20-20, and maybe we can throw a different pitch there."

INJURY REPORT
Jones, who took a tumble trying to run down Garver's line-drive triple, left the game after three innings with right hamstring tightness, according to the Tigers. He underwent an MRI later Sunday as the Tigers pondered whether to put him on the 10-day disabled list.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Moments after Boyd gave way to the Tigers bullpen for the seventh inning, Iglesias gave reliever Alex Wilson a big first out when made a backhanded lunge at Tyler Austin's line drive. The ranging catch corralled a line drive with a 107.9 mph exit velocity, the second-hardest ball hit all day, with a 79 percent hit probability.

Video: MIN@DET: Iglesias makes a nice snag on a frozen rope

UP NEXT
The Tigers continue their 10-game stretch of divisional play on Monday, when they open a three-game series against the White Sox with a 7:10 p.m. ET game at Comerica Park. Artie Lewicki (0-2, 4.76 ERA) will make his fourth career Major League start opposite Reynaldo Lopez (4-9, 4.30).

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

Detroit Tigers, Matthew Boyd