DETROIT -- On the same day former Tiger Justin Verlander made his first start in Houston as an Astro, Matthew Boyd fell an out shy of becoming the first Tigers pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Verlander six years ago, tossing a one-hit shutout in a 12-0 Tigers win over the White Sox Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park.
Rob Brantly's two-out walk in the third inning was all the White Sox could muster against Boyd (6-10) until Tim Anderson doubled over the Tigers' outfielders in right-center field with two outs in the ninth. Anderson had one thing on his mind when he stepped up to the plate.
"Just try not to let this happen," Anderson said. "Try not to let him throw a no-hitter."
With a constant change of speeds, a sneaky breaking ball and some help from his defense, Boyd held down a White Sox lineup that had roughed up Tigers pitching for 29 runs over the first three games of the series and had pushed Detroit's ERA to 7.19 for September entering the day.
"It was just one pitch at a time, attack. The current pitch, that's it," Boyd said. "You start to get beyond that, that's when you start to take away from what you can do in the moment. That's what the emphasis was today."
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Boyd retired Chicago's first eight batters, helped by a highlight play from shortstop Dixon Machado, before walking Brantly. Boyd recovered to retire the next 19 White Sox. He racked up just five strikeouts and eight groundouts for the afternoon, but kept hitters off-balance while using his defense to his advantage, including an over-the-shoulder catch from Efren Navarro behind first base to end the sixth and a ranging grab from JaCoby Jones to retire Jose Abreu in right-center.
"Probably the fifth inning, I noticed he's got no hits," catcher John Holaday said. "And then I just tried to not think about it, not think about it, keep your mind occupied with other stuff. And then each inning that goes by, you're like, 'Oh, wow, three outs, I'm running off the field.' You start realizing how quick these innings are going. That eighth inning, you start looking around."
Boyd ran off nine consecutive outs on balls in play, starting with Navarro's over-the-shoulder catch, including a pair of inning-ending groundouts converted by rookie Jeimer Candelario, who ran down an Adam Engel popup in foul territory to start the ninth inning. Pinch-hitter Kevan Smith grounded out to second before Anderson sent a 2-0 pitch 348 feet into the gap and over the head of right fielder Nicholas Castellanos, bringing back memories of Armando Galarraga's perfect-game bid here against the Indians in 2010. That, too, ended with one out to go on a missed call from first-base umpire Jim Joyce.
"Off the bat, I knew he hit it hard," Boyd said of Anderson's hit. "My first instinct was, 'Aw, I left it up.' But he struck it well, man, and he hit it to a big part of the park. So hat's off to him. I beat him on that pitch earlier in the day. He was ready for it that time."
Manager Brad Ausmus said he did not consider a defensive replacement for Castellanos, who spent most of the season at third base before moving to right field a couple weeks ago.
"Nobody catches that ball," Ausmus said.
Castellanos led the Tigers' offense with a two-run double in the third inning, part of an early onslaught off White Sox starter Dylan Covey (0-6), and a two-run homer in the sixth.
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Machado magic: Returning to the Tigers' lineup for his first start since paternity leave, Machado pulled off the kind of acrobatic play Tigers fans expect to see from Jose Iglesias. He ranged deep into the hole on Avisail Garcia's ground ball leading off the second inning, then went airborne for a throw that Efren Navarro, starting at first base for injured Jose Cabrera, reached out to grab for the out.
"You don't think about it. You just grab it and throw it," Machado said. "In the beginning, I thought I was going to tread too much to the left side, but Navarro did a good job to pick it up. He made it look super easy. I'm glad that he did."
Castellanos' drive puts game away: Castellanos thought he had driven a ball over Engel's head before the speedy White Sox center fielder ran down the 391-foot drive from shallow center to strand the bases loaded in the fourth. Two innings later, Castellanos put a drive where Engel couldn't run it down, sending it over the deepest part of the left-field fence for a two-run homer and a 9-0 lead.
"I wasn't thinking about that. Honestly, I was just trying to grab a bat." -- White Sox manager Rick Renteria, on whether he thought of the July 9 game when the White Sox broke up Kyle Freeland's no-hitter in ninth inning at Colorado
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While Ausmus didn't consider a defensive replacement for Castellanos, he did play him shallow in right against Anderson to defend against a single, which cost him some distance on the hit. According to Statcast™, Castellanos' average starting position in right field has been 302 feet, while the average starting depth for right fielders against Anderson has been 285 feet. Castellanos was 277 feet away when Anderson hit the ball.
White Sox: The Sox head to Houston on Tuesday for the final leg of a three-city, 10-game road trip. Right-handed rookie Lucas Giolito (2-2, 2.41 ERA) takes the mound in Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. CT start still in search of his first career road win.
Tigers: Detroit's final homestand continues with a visit from the Oakland A's, against whom they'll open a three-game series starting Monday with a 7:10 p.m. ET game at Comerica Park. Buck Farmer (4-3, 6.62 ERA) gets the start having alternated wins and losses over his last four outings since rejoining the Tigers' rotation.
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