Fireworks at last: Boyd, Cabrera overpower White Sox in series finale
Chicago – Miguel Cabrera walked into the clubhouse Thursday morning and saw Matthew Boyd grinding over the scouting reports.
“Please give us seven innings today,” Cabrera said. “Please, seven innings. Save the bullpen.”
Boyd looked up, nodded, and said he was shooting for at least that.
“OK, nine innings — be a man,” Cabrera said, laughing. “Just pitch.”
Boyd pitched. Superbly. But only for five innings. He struck out a career-high tying 13, but was at 106 pitches and, after allowing his second home run of the game, was pulled with one out in the sixth.
The Tigers offense had built up enough equity to give Boyd his first win since May 28 and the Tigers salvaged one of the three games against the Chicago White Sox, 11-5.
"Miggy pep-talks me every day," Boyd said. "Every single day I am fortunate enough to get talked to by Miggy. He always gets me going."
The 13 strikeouts give Boyd 142 (in 107 innings, with 20 walks) at the All-Star break, the most by a Tigers lefty since Mickey Lolich fanned 156 in 1972. Also, according to STATS, he is the first pitcher in the live ball era to strike out 13 without a walk in less than six innings.
"Really?" Boyd said of his little bit of history. "Hopefully it's the last time I do that. Next time I'll get 13 strikeouts and no walks in seven, eight or nine innings."
Boyd's average run support has been just over three runs a game, so he more than welcomed the additional fireworks.
"Feels good," he said. "We got the win, that's the big thing."
Niko Goodrum, Miguel Cabrera and Jeimer Candelario homered to lead a 15-hit attack and the Tigers opened the game up with a five-run sixth inning.
"Getting walked off last night and going through that long day we had (Wednesday), this is nice," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It was a good day. ... The guys put together quality at-bats and we used the whole field, shooting balls the other way.
"That's good hitting, taking what they give you."
For Goodrum, who had three hits and scored twice, it was his first homer in 108 plate appearance dating to May 31.
Cabrera’s blast was vintage. The ball left his bat at 106 mph and traveled 453 feet into the seats in left center. It was his fifth homer of the year and his first since June 14. And because of his chronic knee pain, it was the first time he's played a day game following a night game since early in the season.
"I know he likes to play," Gardenhire said. "He swung the bat good last night and we needed him in the lineup today. I didn't really even ask him how he was feeling, I just said, 'You're playing.'
"We don't do it that way very often, but we needed him in the lineup."
Cabrera, who declined to speak to the media after the game, also doubled and scored in the sixth, one of four doubles in the inning.
Nick Castellanos, despite getting two hits taken away by excellent defensive plays, extended his on-base streak to a major-league best 27 games with a single and a double. He also knocked in two runs.
Victor Reyes, just recalled from Toledo, and Harold Castro each had a pair of hits and an RBI and John Hicks, who ended an 0-for-31 skid on Wednesday, lashed a two-run single with an exit velocity of 107 mph.
"Every time we came into the dugout, we said we needed to add on more," Hicks said. "Insurance runs are huge."
The 11 runs ties the Tigers' season-high. It was the third time they've scored in double figures, and the first since May 8 against the Angels.
"I just know when Boyd is pitching, he gives you an opportunity to do something," Gardenhire said. "He gives you a chance to win. We also know the (White Sox) are a good hitting team and the ball flies here."
Boyd faced 25 hitters and struck out 13. Of the 12 balls that were put in play against him, nine were hits, and two left the yard.
"What it is, he attacks hitters," Gardenhire said. "When you attack and you are in the zone a lot, you are going to give up some hits and home runs."
Boyd finished with 21 swing-and-miss strikes and 18 called strikes — 11 each with his four-seam fastball.
"Every outing for him, the fastball is the key," said Hicks, who caught Boyd Thursday. "Everyone talks about his slider, but the fastball sets up the slider, and he had a good one today.
"The two home runs were on fastballs that we tried to go in on and they came back more to the middle of the plate."
Jose Rondon and Eloy Jimenez hit two-run homers off Boyd.
"You have to shrug off a home run just like you shrug off a single and just like you shrug off a strikeout," Boyd said.
The Tigers won in six of Boyd's first nine starts, but Thursday's win was just the second in his last 10.
"It wasn't weighing on me," he said. "But it was nice to win. It was nice to high-five with the guys after a start."