Boyd, Hardy demoted, vow to work their way back

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Detroit Tigers pitcher Matt Boyd throws in the first inning Saturday night.

Kansas City, Mo. — There was dejection, certainly. But there was also determination.

Left-handed pitchers Matt Boyd and Blaine Hardy were both optioned back to Triple A Toledo after the 16-5 loss to the Royals Saturday night.

Boyd, who made his fifth winless start of the season Saturday, has been tagged for  13 runs and 15 hits in his last two outings covering eight innings. 

Hardy, after giving up five runs in the eighth inning Friday, gave up a ringing double to left-handed hitting Eric Hosmer, the only batter he faced Saturday.

Manager Brad Ausmus said the corresponding moves would be announced before the game Sunday. Most likely lefty Daniel Norris will be called up, but Ausmus said nothing had been decided.

Both Boyd and Hardy have recently lost the feel of their most important pitch — Boyd has struggled with his slider and Hardy with his curveball.

“I know what I need to do,” Boyd said. “I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. If you look at tonight, I could locate better, but more than anything, I need to just sharpen my slider. Some days it’s not going to be there, but I know it can be better. I know what it’s like when it’s good.”

It was good in his first couple of outings. Recently, though, it’s flattened out and he’s had trouble putting hitters away after he has them down in the count. Seven Royals reached base against him Saturday after he had two strikes on them.

Tigers stagger back to .500 after beatdown

“It’s tough,” he said. “I’m working fastball, curve and change. Your margin for error gets a little tighter, especially when you’re facing as many right-handers as they have. The margin for error just shrinks up a little bit. You just have to be a little finer. If you have four pitches and stuff that’s moving, both sides of the plate, it opens it up for you a little bit.”

Boyd showed how good he can be when he’s clicking. In the third inning he mowed down the heart of the Royals order — Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez — on just eight pitches.

“I mean, I’m going to play this game for a very long time, and I’m going to be good at it,” Boyd said. “I’ll be back. I know that. I’m just going to keep plugging away and getting better.”

Hardy has had one of the best curveballs in the game the last two seasons, but it’s abandoned him this year.

“I know my curveball is not where it usually is and that's an issue for me,” he said. “Especially tonight. They called for a fastball in on Hosmer and I thought I could actually beat him with it. But if my curveball is where it was the last two years, that's pretty much all he's going to see.”

Tigers' Ausmus seeking another reliable setup man

The good news is, he knows why it’s not working, and it’s fixable.

“I have a bad habit of being quick to the plate,” he said. “I think once I slow my mechanics down and get everything in sync, the curveball should be all right. Because in the bullpen, it's not 100 percent, but it's there. It's got the bite that it needs. 

“It's just, you get into the game and the adrenalin starts to go and you try to throw it perfect and, well, there's a loopy one.”

 He worked to rebuild his arm strength in his last stint at Toledo. This time, he hopes to work the bugs out of his curve.

“It sucks but it's one of those things,” he said. “It's baseball. It's going to kick you when you are down. I'm not happy to be sent down, but I can go down and work on my stuff. It's hard to work on stuff up here.

“It's frustrating. But, roll with the punches. I'll be back."

Twitter @cmccosky