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Six years ago on TD Ameritrade Field in Omaha, Nebraska, wearing an Oregon State jersey in a game for the last time, current Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd pitched a complete-game, four-hit shutout against a powerful Indiana team in the College World Series.

Sometimes it’s best to leave memories alone.

Boyd was back at TD Ameritrade Thursday, starting in the first major league game ever played in the state of Nebraska and, to say the least, it didn’t go as well.

In fact, it was his shortest outing of the season. Boyd lasted just four innings (94 pitches) and gave up five runs (four earned) and six hits in a 7-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals. He also balked in a run, his second balk in his last two starts.

BOX SCORE: Royals 7, Tigers 3

He did have seven punch-outs, but many of those came after long at-bats, which helped drive his pitch count up

He gave up a solo home run to Nicky Lopez (Creighton) and a two-run double to Whit Merrifield.

Jones takes a shot

The only concern manager Ron Gardenhire had about moving JaCoby Jones to the leadoff spot was that it might change his approach at the plate. And as hot as Jones had been, hitting over .400 since May 24, he didn’t want him to change a thing.

“He’s swinging it really good right now, you just hope he doesn’t get out of whack trying to be a leadoff man,” Gardenhire said. “We just put him up there because he’s swinging it good. Just don’t get out of whack trying to take pitches and things like that.

“Just be what you’ve been. You’ve been pretty good.”

Well, Jones walked twice and scored both times in his first game at the top of the order Wednesday. And on Thursday, he singled and then got hit hard on his left elbow by a fastball from Royals pitcher Homer Bailey.

He came out of the game after the fifth inning, the Tigers calling it a bruise.

The question, assuming Jones doesn’t miss much time, is whether Gardenhire will keep Jones at the top of the order, even with Niko Goodrum (bruised knee) back in the lineup.

“I might do it again,” he said. “Eventually, we’d like to get Niko in some RBI situations. We’ll just go game-by-game for right now.”

Around the horn

Quite an exchange between Ronny Rodriguez of the Tigers and Royals catcher Martin Maldonado. Rodriguez, who entered the game as a pinch-runner for Miguel Cabrera, was on second base and Maldonado thought he was peeking in and relaying his signs to the hitter. Maldonado walked out to the mound, yelling and pointing at Rodriguez. Between innings, Maldonado went up to Rodriguez again and continued an animated and one-way conversation. It ended with Rodriguez nodding his head and patting Maldonado on the chest. 

… The Tigers managed just two hits in six innings off Bailey, who came in with an ERA just under 6.

… Brandon Dixon had two more hits, raising his average to .289.

... On Tuesday, the Tigers helped the Royals stop an 0-for-36 skid when trailing after six innings. And the win Thursday was the Royals first rubber-game win (when a series is tied 1-1) since May 30 of 2018. They had lost 20 straight times in the third game of a tied series. 

On deck: Indians

Series: Three-game series at Comerica Park

First pitch: Friday, 7:10 p.m.; Saturday, 6:10 p.m.; Sunday, 1:10 p.m.

TV/radio: All three games on FSD/97.1 FM

Probables: Friday – LHP Ryan Carpenter (1-3, 7.89 ERA) vs. RHP Adam Plutko (2-1, 5.19). Saturday – TBD vs. RHP Shane Bieber (5-2, 4.07). Sunday – RHP Spencer Turnbull (3-5, 2.78) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (4-6, 3.71).

Twitter: @cmccosky

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