Rangers make Boyd, Tigers 'pay the price' in loss
Detroit — Some good things happened for the Tigers Thursday night — but a victory was not one of them.
They got five scoreless, one-hit innings from their bullpen, fought out of a 7-0 hole and had the tying runs on base in the ninth inning. But, they fell short, losing to the Texas Rangers, 7-5, on a steamy and wet night at Comerica Park.
"I'm really proud of how these guys fought back," said bench coach Steve Liddle, who filled in again for manager Ron Gardenhire. "We were down a touchdown and they kept batting."
Gardenhire left the game Wednesday afternoon with heat exhaustion and was advised by the doctors to sit this one out, too.
"The doctor told him, 'You are still weak, you've got to hold off,'" Liddle said. "Again, in that dugout it was steamy. Heat index was over 100 degrees."
The game was delayed twice by rain storms, a total of 44 minutes. There were five errors, three by the Rangers, and a few more misplays that weren’t scored errors.
And, most damaging to the Tigers, there was the worst start of the season by left-hander Matthew Boyd.
Boyd, who seemed to get back on track with a quality start in Toronto last Saturday, went just four innings and allowed a season-high seven runs, six earned, with two long home runs.
"He didn't use his fastball and they sat soft on his breaking pitches the whole time," said Liddle, not pulling any punches. "He never repeated his fastball. They made the adjustment and he didn't make an adjustment back."
Left-handed hitting Joey Gallo walloped a 2-1 slider approximately 453 feet to right field. The ball cleared the stands and landed on the concourse. It was his 21st home run of the year, a two-run shot.
Boyd had thrown him back-to-back sliders, one broke away and Gallo flailed at it. The next one stayed over the plate and he mashed it.
In the fourth inning, Boyd gave up an RBI single before the second rain delay hit. Then, after the 29-minute break, he was tagged for another two-run home run to right field — this one by Ronald Guzman, off another slider.
"If they have a pretty good idea of what's coming, then up and down doesn't matter," Liddle said. "They were leaning out over the plate on some of them and raking the ball to left field.
"Gallo hits a hanger, so what? You move on. But the other stuff — he's a lot better than that. You can't do the same thing over and over. Guys will catch on and you will pay the price, like he did tonight."
Boyd, who has been tagged for 21 runs in his last four starts, agreed that he should have thrown his fastball more. But, more to the point, he needed to have a better feel for his slider.
"I don't think I struggled with the fastball; I should've thrown it more," Boyd said. "I missed with the slider, that's what happened today. I didn't throw a lot of bad sliders, but the ones I did throw, they hit — Gallo and Guzman."
The game plan going in was to use the slider and curveball to keep the free swinging Rangers off-balance.
"We stayed with the game plan we've had for (Boyd) all season," catcher John Hicks said. "Off-speed to both sides of the plate. But we didn't make an adjustment quick enough because his curve and slider, he didn't have much of a feel for. And when he threw them for strikes, they weren't as sharp as they usually are."
Liddle was asked about whether Hicks needed to be more proactive with his pitch-calling.
"The pitcher has the ball, it's up to him," said Liddle, who coaches the catchers. "They go over game plans, but game plans change throughout the course of the game. It may be inning to inning. You have to make adjustments constantly.
"It's all about adapting and adjusting and making those adjustments work for you."
It was 7-0 when Boyd departed and the Rangers didn't make a dent off four relievers.
Artie Lewicki pitched two scoreless innings. Buck Farmer, who has allowed just one run in his last 14 games covering 13.2 innings, pitched a clean seventh.
Daniel Stumpf pitched a crisp, 1-2-3 eighth inning — 12 pitches and eight strikes.
Victor Alcantara, whose contract was purchased from Toledo on Wednesday night, pitched a scoreless ninth.
"That's what Gardy has preached the whole time," Liddle said. "Keep fighting. He wasn't with us tonight, but his spirit is always with us."
The Tigers got three runs back in the bottom of the fourth, on RBI singles by Hicks, Jim Adduci and Ronny Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, who came in on an 0-for-22 skid at the big-league level, had three hits.
"Hopefully he doesn't feel like it's a tryout and he just relaxes and plays," Liddle said. "He's getting a great opportunity here."
Gardenhire opted to rest catcher James McCann, center fielder JaCoby Jones and third baseman Jeimer Candelario. Hicks started behind the plate, Victor Reyes in center and Rodriguez at third.
Niko Goodrum batted third in the makeshift order, and hit his eighth home run of the season — a 399-footer down the right-field line off Rangers starter Yovani Gallardo that made it a 7-4 game in the sixth.
They made one last run off right-hander Keone Kela in the ninth.
An error by third baseman Jurickson Profar helped set the table and an RBI single by Reyes made it a two-run deficit.
But as quickly as the rally started, it ended.
Kela struck out Nick Castellanos with runners at first and third, and then got Goodrum on a broken-bat ground out.