Seattle — Less than a week ago, Matthew Boyd was trying to figure out how to slow a Seattle lineup that included Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz in the middle of the batting order.
It was a bit easier for the Detroit left-hander on Thursday night with Cano now suspended and Cruz nursing a sore foot.
“It’s huge. Cano’s a Hall of Famer and Cruz, he’s one of the best power hitters in the league,” Boyd said. “With those two out of there, you’d be lying to say it’s not different.”
Boyd was the beginning of a strong pitching performance that kept the Tigers close long enough for Jose Iglesias’ two-out, two-run single in the eighth inning that gave Detroit a 3-2 win over the Mariners on Thursday night.
Boyd struck out a career-high nine and didn’t factor in the decision but was part of a solid night by the Tigers’ staff. After Mitch Haniger’s RBI single in the third inning, the Mariners’ only hits were a pair of singles by Guillermo Heredia — one in the fourth and another leading off the seventh inning.
Boyd combined with Buck Farmer, Blaine Hardy, Warwick Saupold (2-1), Joe Jimenez and Shane Greene to retire 20 of the final 23 batters faced. Jimenez struck out the side in the eighth inning and Greene pitched the ninth for his 10th save.
“Our pitchers gave us a chance,” Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Boyd was fantastic, got us through six solid. Our bullpen we had to maneuver through that and get some big outs for us.”
Detroit rallied against Seattle’s bullpen and specifically eighth-inning regular Nick Vincent (1-1) to take the opener of the four-game series. With two outs in the eighth, Vincent allowed a single to Mikie Mahtook and walked James McCann to load the bases. Seattle stayed with Vincent and Iglesias got enough of a 1-0 cutter to send it up the middle and off the glove of shortstop Jean Segura diving to try to stop the grounder.
The rally by Detroit came an inning after Seattle failed to add to its lead after having runners at second and third with one out. Dee Gordon struck out and Segura grounded out, ending Seattle’s only scoring opportunity after the third inning.
“It was a big, big point in the game, we didn’t get the runs across and it came back to hurt us,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “We’re struggling right now to really string much together offensively.”
Seattle starter Marco Gonzales was cruising into the sixth inning and should have gotten out of the inning without allowing a run, but Kyle Seager’s two-out throwing error allowed John Hicks to score Detroit’s first run and ended Gonzales’ night.
Heredia had a two-out RBI single in the second inning and Haniger’s RBI single in the third gave Seattle a 2-0 lead.