Bullpen backs stellar Matthew Boyd, Tigers regain winning feeling
Baltimore — You think the Tigers didn’t need this win Tuesday night?
You think manager Ron Gardenhire didn’t need it?
Listen to him before the game.
“We’ve won one out of the last 13, so yeah, that’s a grind,” Gardenhire said. “That’s tough. You feel for these guys in the clubhouse. The coaches are beating themselves up, too.
“When I go home, I don’t even look in the mirror right now.”
Yeah, the Tigers enjoyed the 3-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
"It's awesome," said Grayson Greiner, who had lost the last 13 games he'd caught before Tuesday. "Winning is everything. It's all anyone cares about in here. It's all I care about. It's been a rough stretch. It felt really good to get this win."
That it came against the Orioles, who have the worst winning percentage in the American League, and in front of a sparse crowd of 8,106, mattered not.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” Gardenhire said. “We’re just trying to win a ballgame…Hope we get a better feeling, shaking hands after the game. It’s not been easy to do.”
It was easier on this night. Matthew Boyd made it so. The Tigers ace was stellar again. He allowed just six singles in six shutout innings, with eight strikeouts. He hasn't allowed a run in 12 straight innings.
"It was a good team win," said Boyd. "The guys picked me up after I left some trouble on the (base)paths in the seventh inning. But Buck (Farmer) and (Daniel) Stumpf really picked me up."
Boyd's fastball, right from the start, was popping. It sat at 93 mph most of the game, hitting 94. He threw 48 of them and got six swings and misses and 12 called strikes. He played his slider and change-up effectively off the heater.
"The slider is his go-to pitch, but I thought his change-up was really good tonight," Greiner said.
After cruising through a seven-pitch (all strikes) fifth inning and an eight-pitch sixth, he walked Pedro Severino to lead off the seventh. It was his first and only walk. Then he got two quick strikes on Orioles rookie DJ Stewart, but ended up going to a full count before surrendering a single.
Of the six hits off Boyd, Stewart, the only left-handed hitter in the Orioles' starting lineup, had three of them.
The last one ended Boyd’s night at 96 pitches, but the bullpen had his back.
"They make you work," Gardenhire said of the Orioles hitters. "Boyd did what he was supposed to do, he got us through six innings. But I've seen him better. He limited the damage and made pitches when he had to."
Farmer, throwing lively 96-mph fastballs, struck out a pair of left-handed hitters — pinch-hitter Dwight Smith Jr. and Stevie Wilkerson. Lefty Stumpf then was summoned. He got left-handed hitting Rio Ruiz to pop out to first.
Inning over, three-run lead preserved.
"Those guys are real good," Boyd said. "They've picked me up so many times."
It got a little tense in the eighth inning, too. Tigers setup man Joe Jimenez did not have his slider. Without it, it took him 31 pitches to record three outs. He walked Jonathan Villar and hit Renato Nunez, both on 3-2 pitches.
But with two outs, he stuck out Severino swinging at a 94-mph fastball, again on a 3-2 pitch.
Shane Greene, in just his fourth appearance since May 17, pitched a clean ninth to earn his 17th save.
The Tigers scored single runs in the first, second, and fifth innings against Orioles starter Dylan Bundy.
Christin Stewart got it started with a double off the scoreboard in right field. The ball left his bat at 110 mph. Miguel Cabrera drove him in with a two-out single.
In the second, JaCoby Jones put one in the gap in left center, scoring Grayson Greiner from first. Jones had a pair of doubles and now has nine hits in his last five games.
In the fifth, Niko Goodrum hit his fourth home run of the year, and his first since April 30. He launched a low pitch that bounced off the top of the wall in right field and bounced over.
“You really go through it when you are in stretches like this,” Gardenhire said. “But, at the end of the day, you wake up, come in and do it all over again. You come in positive and feeling like you are going to win a ballgame today.”
And some days, you actually do.