Chicago — Matthew Boyd was on the verge of limiting the damage to two runs in what turned out to be a fatal, five-run third inning Sunday in the Tigers' 7-1 loss to the White Sox.
After cruising through the first two innings, he’d given up an RBI double to Tim Anderson and an RBI single to Tyler Saladino. After a single by Avisail Garcia, Boyd faced Matt Davidson with two on and two out.
He had struck out Davidson on three pitches in the second inning.
This time, he let him back into the count after being ahead 0-2. But he thought he had him out on a 3-2 fastball. Davidson popped it high and foul down the right-field line. The wind seemed to be pushing it back toward the field.
First baseman Miguel Cabrera never gave chase. Second baseman Ian Kinsler seemed to give up the chase early, and the ball landed in play but foul a few feet in front of the stands.
Davidson hit the next pitch, another fastball (92 mph), more than 400 feet into the seats in right-center field — the killing blow.
“I thought it was out (of play),” Kinsler said. “I gave up on it for a second. The wind was swirling today. You didn't know what direction it was going to go. Later in the game there was a ball that blew toward the stands; which was completely the opposite direction it was blowing earlier.”
Make no mistake, it would have been a tough play even if Kinsler had stayed after it.
“I don't know if I catch that ball,” Kinsler said. “I probably would have had a shot at it, who knows? But it probably would have been a sliding play at the wall or something like that. With Davidson, I was playing up the middle quite a bit. It was a long run.
“But I thought it was in the stands.”
The ball fooled manager Brad Ausmus, too.
“I wasn’t looking at Kinsler or Miggy, I was following the ball,” he said. “I actually thought the ball was going into the stands. Still, Kinsler went a long way.”
Boyd, who was kicking himself for leaving the second 3-2 fastball over the heart of the plate, was asked if he thought the foul ball was going to be caught.
“Yes, no,” he said. “It’s just what happened.”
Debut at last
He had to wait a bit — four days to be exact — but rookie right-hander Zac Reininger finally made his big-league debut Sunday. The best thing to be said about it — it’s over.
“I felt pretty good,” he said. “Obviously, I was a little nervous. Everybody is in their first outing. But I felt pretty composed.”
His fastball was as advertised, 95 to 97 mph. But his slider was a little flatter than usual and it cost him. He allowed three singles, a walk and two runs — singles by Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia, sacrifice fly by Kevan Smith and an RBI single by Yolmer Sanchez.
“I wasn’t getting out in front, on my slider mostly,” he said. “But with all my pitches I was leaving it up and leaving it on the inside and they took advantage of the pitches I missed.”
It may have taken four days to get in a game, but his ascent through the Tigers’ system was brisk. He started the season in High-A Lakeland and blew through Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo.
And his reward was to throw his first big-league pitches to Abreu.
“These guys are good hitters, all of them,” Reininger said. “I honestly didn’t pay attention to who — I was just trying to get out there and pitch and not worry about who I was facing.”
He certainly didn’t seem overwhelmed by the occasion.
“I made some good pitches and got some ground balls,” he said. “Unfortunately, they hit them in the right spots. I felt like I did what I should’ve done out there.”
Ausmus was still perplexed about being ejected from the game in the fifth inning Saturday night by rookie umpire Nick Mahrley.
He had been beefing from the dugout about Mahrley’s vast strike zone. Coaches and players from both dugouts were doing the same all game. But with Victor Martinez up in the fifth, Mahrley made Ausmus the first ejection of his career.
Ausmus never left the dugout.
“I couldn’t believe I got ejected,” he said. “I don’t even think I cussed. I wasn’t even angry enough to go out and argue. He ejected me and I was like, ‘What?’ I wasn’t the only one that was yelling. I was shocked.”
Gene Lamont, who finished the game for Ausmus, said it was probably best that he went quietly.
“Sometimes the longer you are out there the more money it’s going to cost you,” Lamont said. “So, I think he did the right thing.”
Ian Kinsler’s home run in the eighth inning was his 14th of the season, all solo shots. According to Elias, the 14 straight solo homers is the longest streak to start a season since Shin Soo-Choo did it in 2013.