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Baker's dozen: Boyd whiffs career-high 13

Beckham hits go-ahead home run in eighth inning
@ladsonbill24
April 3, 2019

NEW YORK -- The Tigers' pitching is certainly a bright spot for the club, entering Wednesday's action ranked fifth in the Major Leagues with a 2.33 ERA. Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd helped them become among the elite in that department by dominating for 6 1/3 innings in a 2-1 victory

NEW YORK -- The Tigers' pitching is certainly a bright spot for the club, entering Wednesday's action ranked fifth in the Major Leagues with a 2.33 ERA.

Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd helped them become among the elite in that department by dominating for 6 1/3 innings in a 2-1 victory over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.

The Tigers, who play their home opener on Thursday against the Royals, improved their record to 4-3. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Tigers are just the third team since 1900 to win at least four of its first seven decisions when scoring a combined 12-or-fewer runs, joining the 1913 Phillies and the '71 Mets.

The Tigers didn't need to score many runs on this day because they had Boyd on the mound. He showed that he could pound the zone and had a game to remember. Boyd struck out a career-high 13 batters, scattered five hits and allowed one run. Boyd had 26 swings and misses and became the first Tigers pitcher to start his season with back-to-back 10-plus strikeout games.

"It's a work in progress," Boyd said. "The whole career is linear. It's not like something changed during the offseason. We were putting in work at the end of the year [in 2018]. Throughout the year last year, we were just refining things. I can't control strikeouts. Once it's out of my hands, it's out of my control. It's worked out in my favor so far."

Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said Boyd took advantage of the conditions at Yankee Stadium.

"Our starter was fantastic," Gardenhire said. "Matty spun the ball. You can do that right there. There are big shadows. You could tell how hard it was for both teams. [Boyd] had all his stuff going -- his fastball, his slider and everything. He kept them off-balance. You could see that. … What a great arm. Great stuff. It's not about just the shadows, but that made it tougher for everybody. But you use it. You use whatever you can as a pitcher. When it's hard to see spin and when you keep spinning it, and he had a good one today."

The 25th man

Unfortunately, Boyd picked up a no-decision because the Tigers could plate only one run while he was on the mound. However, right-hander Buck Farmer picked up the victory after Gordon Beckham hit a solo home run off Chad Green in the eighth inning. It was Beckham's first home run since Aug. 28, 2016, against the Giants.

Beckham is considered the 25th man on the team, but Gardenhire called him a gamer. The skipper said you need that 25th man who can sit on the bench, come off the bench and put up a professional at-bat, which he did against the Yankees.

"We talked about it in Spring Training. That's why we kept him here," Gardenhire said. "He earned the spot. He played really well. I've seen him on the other side. This kid really knows how to play the game. You don't have to worry about him. He can put a swing on the ball every once in a while like he did today."

Beckham said he liked his approach at the plate against Green.

"I hit it all right. I'm happy it got up and got out," Beckham said. "I'm loving the fact that we are eking out these wins. That's a sign of a good team. We have a lot of young guys, but we also have veteran guys. The fact that we are gaining confidence that we could win these close games is huge."

Bill Ladson has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. He covered the Nationals/Expos from 2002-2016. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.