Minneapolis – The hits just keep on coming for the Tigers.
And by hits, we mean kidney punches.
Left-hander Matthew Boyd, who has been the Tigers most consistent starting pitcher this season, left a scoreless game in the fifth inning with what the Tigers diagnosed as a left oblique spasm. He had barely hit the trainers’ room before the Twins scored three times, on their way to a 6-0 win Tuesday.
BOX SCORE: Twins 6, Tigers 0
It’s five straight losses now. The Tigers have scored two runs or less in four of those five losses. The road record is 8-18. They’ve also lost nine of their last 10 against the Twins. And for the first time all year, there was very little life in the dugout.
“Losing causes frustration,” catcher James McCann said. “Whether you are losing by one run or by 20 runs, no one likes to lose. No one shows up to lose. You show up to win. Of course it gets frustrating.
“All teams go through this. I don’t even want to call it a slump. But all teams go through it at some point in the year. It’s all about how quickly you can come out of it.”
Manager Ron Gardenhire, who didn’t hesitate in pulling Boyd from the game in the fifth, even as Boyd campaigned to stay, blamed himself for the dead bench.
“I just told them, ‘That was my fault,’” he said. “I was sitting there trying to figure out how we’re going to get through this. I told them I’m going to bring it tomorrow. You won't have me just sitting around tomorrow.”
The Tigers have their fingers crossed that Boyd simply cramped up and there won’t be any long-term implications. They can ill-afford to lose him, especially with Jordan Zimmermann (shoulder) likely out until early June.
“We’re just concerned about him,” Gardenhire said. “I just talked to him in the trainers’ room and he said he didn’t think he even had to come out of the game. He wanted to stay out there. But I’m not going to do that.
“No way I’m taking a chance with that kid. Just get him off the field. Get him out. Get him checked out by the doctors and let them do their thing.”
Boyd had allowed just just one hit – an infield single to Logan Morrison on a ball third baseman Niko Goodrum double-clutched before throwing late to first. But, Boyd uncharacteristically also walked four batters, including the first two in the fifth.
“His slider wasn’t quite the same as it normally is,” McCann said. “We talked about it in the third inning. But looking back on it, I don’t think he was getting through his pitches quite like he was in the past."
To that point, Boyd got just one swing-and-miss, and it came on his 50th pitch.
“Still, he went four scoreless innings and gave up one hit," McCann said. "But four walks is not what he’s been this year. Obviously, something was bothering him.”
Boyd, though, said the only thing that bothered him was the spasm, which he said he felt for the first time in the fifth inning.
“It just tightened up there in that inning,” Boyd said. “They saw something, but I didn’t feel anything different outside the spasm. We’re just playing it safe.”
First pitching coach Chris Bosio came out, followed soon after by Gardenhire and head athletic trainer Doug Teter. The decision to pull him was made immediately and the normally stoic Boyd was visibly frustrated when he walked off the field.
“I was disappointed to come out of that game,” he said. “I felt great. My stuff was working and they were (swinging) early in the count. I was mixes speeds in the zone. I wanted to stay in there, but that's not my decision sometimes."
Right-hander Warwick Saupold replaced him and gave up a one-out, RBI double to Ehire Adrianza and a two-out, two-strike, two-run double to Brian Dozier. It was 3-0 that quickly, two of the runs pinned on Boyd.
The Twins tacked on three more runs in the seventh off Buck Farmer. He pitched a clean sixth inning, striking out three straight after getting Morrison to start the seventh. Then the Twins banged out four straight hits – doubles by Max Kepler and Adrianza, a single by Byron Buxton and a double by Dozier.
Dozier had two doubles and three RBIs on the night, Adrianza two doubles and two RBIs.
The offense continues to be hamstrung, too, by the absences of Miguel Cabrera (hamstring) and Jeimer Candelario (wrist).
“You get behind like that and I think everybody is starting to press a little bit,” Gardenhire said. “This has been a long stretch of baseball. We’ve got to grind our way through it.”
If ever they were going to have a breakout game, it would’ve been Tuesday. They faced struggling Twins right-hander Lance Lynn, who came in with a bulging ERA (7.47), having allowed nine runs in 13.2 innings this month. He’d walked six hitters in his last two starts, too.
But the Tigers couldn’t solve him.
He pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings. The Tigers managed five hits off him, a double and single by JaCoby Jones and two singles by Nick Castellanos. He hit Jones and walked Jose Iglesias with two outs in the seventh.
He was at 100 pitches and done.
Right-hander Ryan Pressly took over and struck out pinch-hitter Mikie Mahtook to end the inning.
“We’d love to get Miggy back and Candy,” Jones said. “They’re hot hitters and they’ve helped us a bunch. But I don’t think we’re pressing or anything like that. We’re just playing ball. You lose games sometimes. It’s baseball. It happens.
“We just have to keep moving forward. Just get ready to play tomorrow and try to win a game.”