Detroit Free Press
Published 11:35 PM EDT Aug 13, 2019
It all came undone in the top of the sixth inning, in familiar fashion.
Matthew Boyd has been bitten by the home run ball all season. Entering Tuesday’s series opener against the Seattle Mariners, he had allowed 26 home runs in 24 starts.
And so, it was no coincidence Tuesday when his solid start fell apart with home runs.
Boyd had already allowed two, but afforded a second chance to hold a lead, the Detroit Tigers’ left-handed ace allowed two more.
First in the top of the sixth, Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager hit a three-run home run to erase that lead. Then, Tom Murphy followed with a solo home run for a lead. Seattle added four more runs and beat the Tigers, 11-6, at Comerica Park.
Boyd allowed four home runs, two each to Seager and Murphy, who hit back-to-back home runs in both the fourth and sixth innings.
Boyd struggled again, allowing seven runs — six earned — on seven hits. He struck out four batters and walked two.
The unearned run came on a Brandon Dixon error with one out in the sixth, an ominous sign of things to come. On the play, center fielder Niko Goodrum appeared to call Dixon off the routine fly ball. But Goodrum, charging hard from Dixon’s left, didn’t catch the ball and Dixon dropped it.
Offensively for the Tigers (35-81), John Hicks hit his eighth home run of the season – a solo shot – and Jake Rogers hit his fourth – a two-run shot.
Seager hit his third homer of the night in the ninth for Seattle (49-71), when Goodrum and Dixon collided on the warning track in left-center, with the ball popping out of Goodrum’s glove and hopping over the fence.
Here are three observations from the Tigers’ loss:
1. Boyd’s night: Given his entire body of work this season, it is too quick to overreact to Boyd’s recent struggles. In seven starts since the All-Star break, Boyd has pitched to a 5.76 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 39 innings. Most notable are Boyd’s home runs allowed – 11 in that span – which has resulted in baseball’s highest home run rate, at 2.54 per nine innings. Most likely, the past month has been a blip on the radar screen, but it certainly appears as if Boyd is regressing to the mean.
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2. At the plate: Building off their overall performance from the past weekend, the Tigers did enough offensively. They totaled 13 hits, chasing Mariners lefty Yusei Kikuchi in the fourth inning. Hicks continues to torment the team that drafted him – he is hitting .407 with five home runs against Seattle in his career – and both Rogers and fellow rookie Travis Demeritte are showing well. Demeritte is hitting 11-for-41 with five extra-base hits and seven walks in 49 plate appearances. The Tigers did most of their damage in the fourth inning, scoring four times, but were held scoreless in the final four innings.
3. The big error: It only resulted in one unearned run, but it’s fair to wonder how things might have gone differently if there was no miscommunication between Dixon and Goodrum in the sixth. If Dixon makes the catch, Boyd has nobody on with two outs. Instead, an error, a walk, a three-run home run and another solo home run, and Boyd walked off the mound hooked with another loss.
Contact Anthony Fenech at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @anthonyfenech. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.