Detroit — Matthew Boyd wasn't in the mood to accept moral victories Friday night. He pitched seven strong innings — which was imperative with the Tigers planning a bullpen game on Saturday — and left a 3-3 tie.
"That's what I'm supposed to do," he said.
The Minnesota Twins scored twice off reliever Joe Jimenez in the eighth inning and went on to beat the Tigers 6-3 Friday night. It's their 12th loss in the last 13 games at Comerica Park.
"Matthew just continues to grow and develop as a pitcher," said Tigers bench coach Steve Liddle, who took over the team after Ron Gardenhire was ejected in the third inning. "He has developed himself into one of the premier pitchers in the American League and it's been a lot of fun to watch."
Boyd struck out nine and got 20 swings and misses in 108 pitches. But he was accepting no praise or solace because of two home run balls.
"They lead the league in home runs," Boyd said. "They swing early and they swing often. You can use that to your advantage. But they got me a few times tonight. It's the nature of it."
Catcher Mitch Garver hit a two-run home run in the third inning. Boyd had gotten ahead 0-2, then threw three straight balls. He then challenged Garver with a fastball (95 mph) and lost. Garver hit it 400 feet over the fence in left-center.
"Hats off to him," Boyd said. "I missed with a few sliders and he was waiting for (the fastball)."
Then, after the Tigers had taken a 3-2 lead, Boyd left a curveball over the plate to CJ Cron in the sixth inning — solo homer off the foul pole in left.
"I thought he threw well, just one mistake to Cron," catcher John Hicks said. "It was a curveball that came back over the plate."
The Twins, with 120 home runs, are on pace to set a home run record.
"They've done a good job of, when I make a mistake, they hit it," Boyd said. "Mistakes are going to happen. Sometimes you get away with them, but these guys punish me when I make a mistake."
The Twins' third home run of the game was the winner, and it was struck by one of the all-time Tiger killers.
On the third pitch from Jimenez in the eighth inning, Nelson Cruz hit a 95-mph fastball over the fence in right field. It’s the 12th regular season homer he’s hit at Comerica Park.
"We wanted the fastball away," Hicks said. "It got away from him, down and in his (sweet spot)."
In his last three outings, Jimenez has allowed eight runs (five earned) in two innings. Jimenez was an All-Star last season.
"Sometimes the game speeds up on you a little bit," Liddle said. "We're all frustrated, not just Joe. We're frustrated for him, as well. He was an All-Star last year at this time."
Since the All-Star break last year, Jimenez has posted a 3-7 record with a 6.40 ERA.
"It's an opportunity to grow," Liddle said. "When you have a setback, it's an opportunity to grow. This is something Joe's got to face and deal with. And we're going to help him along the way."
By the time this one got into the late innings, Gardenhire was in his office, ejected for the 81st time in his career.
Boyd picked Jorge Polanco off first base in the first inning. It was his major-league leading fourth pick-off of the season. But in the third inning, he was called for a balk on his pick-off attempt on Byron Buxton.
"I thought it looked like the last few pick-offs he's done before that, and they weren't called balks," Hicks said. "I heard the first-base dugout yell balk and he (home plate umpire James Hoye) followed suit.
"I don't know if they influenced him or not, but he called it after they yelled it out."
Replays showed that Boyd did indeed balk. His front leg came home first before he picked it up and threw to first. That’s not really what brought Gardenhire out of the dugout.
He wanted to know why Hoye made the call and not first-base umpire Chad Whitson. Whitson didn’t even flinch on the move. Typically, the first-base umpire has the better angle to make the call.
"They hollered balk out of the dugout and it looked like there was a delay and then, 'Oh yeah, that's a balk,' " Liddle said. "He let Ron argue for quite a while. You're not supposed to argue balks."
The loss marred another good night for Miguel Cabrera. He rapped three hits, which put him at 2,737, moving him past Goose Goslin for 58th all-time.
He helped manufacture a run in the fourth. Leading off the inning, Twins starter Michael Pineda threw two mid-90s fastballs by him, then decided to throw a slider. Bad idea. Cabrera lashed it into the left-field corner and hustled into second base.
Brandon Dixon hit a fly ball to right-center. Cabrera, bad right knee and all, tagged and slid safely into third base. He scored on a two-out double by Ronny Rodriguez — which ended an 0-for-32 drought.
As fate would have it, Cabrera came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with two on and two out. He hit a ball up the middle that left his bat with an exit velocity of 109 mph -— straight into the glove of second baseman Jonathan Schoop.
"It was great to see the guys fight back," Liddle said. "We had the tying run at the plate and Miggy hits a laser to end the game. So, we made it interesting, for sure."