'Getting old in a hurry:' Long ball bites Boyd, Tigers' bats go quiet again
Detroit — Manager Ron Gardenhire was in a philosophical mood before the game Wednesday, trying to find a pocket of hope amidst this dismal run the Tigers are on this month.
“It’s the greatest thing about the game and the toughest thing about the game,” he said. “You get another chance tomorrow. If you still feel like you stink, then you ‘have’ to play again tomorrow. We prefer the first one — ‘Hey, I get a chance to do it again tomorrow and make up for it.’”
They will “have” to play again Thursday afternoon.
The Texas Rangers continued to heap misery on the Tigers, beating them 4-1 behind another sterling outing from left-hander Mike Minor.
BOX SCORE: Rangers 4, Tigers 1
"They are trying," Gardenhire said of his team afterward. "They are rooting in the dugout and all those things. But we've got to stop trying and start doing. Start getting some of those big hits because this is getting old in a hurry for everyone in this clubhouse."
The sad tally: Six straight losses, 4-17 in June and 2-19 in the last 21 games at Comerica Park, not counting the suspended game against Oakland.
"It's not easy, coming in here and losing, at home especially," Gardenhire said. "It's frustrating. We've got to get over that and find a way to get some hits."
They weren't able to generate much of anything against Minor, who pitched his second complete game of the season. He's allowed three runs or less now in 12 straight starts, which is a Rangers record.
The only damage the Tigers did against him was a solo home run in the fourth inning by Brandon Dixon. He was on an 0-for-14 skid coming into that at-bat, but slammed a slider 418 feet into the seats in left.
Who had Dixon as the first Tigers’ hitter get into double-digits in homers? He has 10.
Other than that, it was essentially a cruise for Minor through eight innings. He allowed three other hits (two by Jeimer Candelario, just recalled from Toledo), and struck out seven.
"That kid was good," Gardenhire said. "He located his fastball well. His cutter I think gave us the most trouble. And he was spinning it pretty good, too. You go nine innings, you're doing something."
Approaching 100 pitches, Rangers manager Chris Woodward sent Minor back out for the ninth. Nick Castellanos singled and Miguel Cabrera walked to start the inning.
Minor, unruffled, struck out Dixon (for the third time in the game) and got Niko Goodrum to hit into a game-ending double play. Complete game win.
On the flip side, it was an almost incomprehensible outing for Tigers lefty Matthew Boyd. He struck out 11 in seven innings — he book-ended his night by striking out the side in the first and seventh. It was his fourth career double-digit strikeout performance.
He allowed five hits. His fastball was a force. He threw 50 of them between 89-94 mph and got 11 swings and misses, nine called strikes and 11 foul balls.
But the home run ball got him, again.
The Rangers hit three home runs off him in the fifth inning, each on a different pitch.
"Just, hats off to the hitters," Boyd said. "They have to score somehow off me."
Willie Calhoun — a left-handed hitter who doubled and scored from second base on a sacrifice fly to the wall in center field in the third — lofted a hanging curveball into the seats in right field.
"It was a good pitch, it just wasn't the right pitch," Boyd said. "I sequenced it wrong. I gave him a shot on a pitch. I beat him with a slider then I gave him a shot when I slowed it down with a curveball."
Two batters later, light-hitting catcher Jeff Mathis lined a fastball into the left-field seats.
"Shame on me for that pitch," Boyd said.
Two batters after that, Danny Santana hit a slider well beyond the visitors’ bullpen in left-center.
All told, the Rangers hit 1,185 feet of home runs in the inning.
"I punched out three guys with the slider," Boyd said. "I threw the same fastball to Mathis the next time up and struck him out. I've made mistakes before that ended up getting popped up.
"It's just what happens. You can't measure success on the stat sheet, otherwise you're going to ride the ups and downs of the year. Somebody tagged and scored from second base today, right? Stuff happens. You can't ride the ups and downs. You'e got to stay the course."
After allowing seven homers in his first 12 starts (72.2 innings), Boyd has allowed 10 in his last five (29 innings).
"I'm just going to forget about the rest of his starts — this was a good start," Gardenhire said. "He just got some balls up against a team that hits the ball in the seats. They live by that and they made him pay."
But, again, it comes back to the slumbering offense and the ever shrinking margin for error the pitchers are working with.
"We're not scoring runs, so it's hard for a pitcher to make any mistake right now and not pay for it," Gardenhire said. "That's the unfortunate part. We have to start scoring some runs and take care of our pitchers.
"There is no answer for it. It just has to happen on the field. We can't wish it. We have to make it happen and that's kind of what we're not doing right now."
Rise, rinse and repeat.
“Just go back out a play,” Gardenhire said. “Everything changes. One good swing can change a personality. That is the best thing about this game. You can be in the biggest hole in the world, but one good swing and all of a sudden you can turn it around.
“That’s what we’re all looking for.”