Tigers' Boyd unravels in fourth spring start

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Matt Boyd delivers to the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning. The Blue Jays won 6-4 Thursday.

Dunedin, Fla. – Left-hander Matt Boyd made positive strides in his previous three starts, each was more impressive than the last.

On Thursday, he took a step back.

“I just had no rhythm out there,” he said, after the Tigers lost 6-4 to the Blue Jays. “I didn’t put myself in a position to win. I couldn’t repeat my delivery. Kind of shot myself in the foot in that way.”

He fell behind too many hitters, which forced him to reduce his five-pitch repertoire. Even without big boppers Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion or Troy Tulowitzki — all out of the lineup — the Jays pounded out seven hits and four runs off Boyd in 3⅓ innings.

“It happens,” he said. “You can point to whatever it was, I just didn’t repeat my delivery. There’s days when you don’t feel good. It’s no excuse. You still have to put your team in a position to win.”

Fighting for the fifth spot in the rotation in probably his next to last start of the spring, Boyd threw 81 pitches, only 46 strikes.

“He showed signs,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “He threw some real good pitches — real good sliders and change-ups, then he’d have trouble throwing it a second time.”

Norris likely DL-bound, Tigers' pitching picture murky

Boyd was also the victim of some sloppy play defensively.

He had Kevin Pillar picked off twice in the first inning — at both first base and second base. Each time the Tigers botched to throw and tag. First John Mayberry and Jose Iglesias missed connection at second, and then third baseman Nick Castellanos missed Boyd’s throw, allowing Pillar to score.

“The first one Mayberry just had trouble getting the ball out of his glove,” Ausmus said. “The second one — that’s why you have spring training.”

In the second inning, the Tigers needed three throws to tag out Junior Lake in a rundown between third and home. The prolonged rundown allowed runners to advance to second and third. Both scored on a two-out single by Pillar.

“It was too many throws because they ended up in better position than they were before, with the exception of the extra out,” Ausmus said.

Boyd said it was still on him to pitch out of it, which he came within one strike of doing. Pillar hit a 1-2 pitch for the single.

“They aren’t trying to miss those throws,” he said. “I threw a 2-0 fastball letter high to Justin Smoak (long home run to left) and I was trying to go up and in. It happens and you just have to minimize the damage — react and adapt.”

The Tigers got four runs off Jays knuckleballer RA Dickey. James McCann had a two-run single, Iglesias singled home a run and Castellanos blasted a long home run into the wind over the right-center field fence.

Steven Moya punched an opposite-field double and laced a single up the middle, both in two-strike counts, off Dickey.

Twitter @cmccosky