'One or two pitches' bite Boyd, Indians complete another sweep of Tigers
Cleveland — Tigers closer Shane Greene likes to say, “Sometimes balls are caught on the warning track and sometimes they go over the fence.”
What Matthew Boyd wouldn’t give to see a few balls caught on the warning track.
The home run ball beat him again Thursday night. He gave up a two-run blast to Jordan Luplow in the first inning and a two-run, tie-breaking shot to Jose Ramirez in the sixth — both with two outs — and the Indians completed the four-game sweep of the Tigers, 6-3.
"He's been throwing the ball great," catcher Bobby Wilson said. "It just seems like it's one or two pitches that does him in. Talking to him just now, he feels like his last five starts were his best five starts.
"You hate losing but you love hearing that from your guy. He felt good and he was committed to the pitch and the game plan. It just didn't work out."
Boyd has allowed 14 home runs in his last eight starts. On the season, he’s given up 21 in 120 innings. He gave up a career-high 27 dingers in 170.1 innings last year.
"I'm not going to let one pitch dictate how I feel about an outing," said Boyd, who struck out eight in six innings. "That's very shortsighted. There's always pitches I'm going to want to make differently. But that's what happens.
"I felt I was in control today. Unfortunately, I came out on the wrong end of the box score."
Luplow factored in both home runs.
With two outs and a runner on second in the first inning, Boyd got two quick strikes on him. The plan, judging by where Wilson set his target, was to raise Luplow’s eye level with a high fastball.
Boyd didn’t get it high enough and Luplow clubbed it over the wall in left.
"That was the game plan, top of the zone," Wilson said. "And he beat us twice with elevated heaters. But if you look at the previous starts Matty's had against him, we've beaten him (with pitches) up. We beat him up in his second at-bat.
"We had our game plan and we had everything set and it just didn't work."
It was the first home run Boyd has allowed on an 0-2 pitch this season.
"It could've been higher," he said. "In hindsight, I should have thrown it higher. But I put it at the top of the zone and he hit it. Hats off to him. I hope he enjoyed it."
Then in the sixth, again with two outs, Luplow extended the inning, whacking another high fastball for a single. Ramirez followed, hitting a 1-1 fastball into the seats in left.
"Sitting back in the chair after the game, Ramirez's ball is the one I could've done something different on," Boyd said. "I threw it right where I wanted to, exactly what the game plan said. I threw the same pitch in the first inning and he popped it up."
In eight starts since June 1, Boyd has an ERA of 6.08.
"Sometimes they hit home runs," Boyd said. "This year they're doing it across the league more frequently. That's no excuse. That's the game we play."
It was the Tigers’ 11th straight loss to the Indians and the 10th time they’ve been swept in a series this season.
"It was a good fight," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We got after it pretty good against a really good pitcher...Those guys (Indians) seem to make plays when they have to. They make a lot of really big plays that end up knocking you back when you start getting close to them."
The Tigers hit a pair of home runs off Indians starter Trevor Bauer, who like Boyd is a disciple of the Driveline Baseball training center in Washington and a potential trade target.
Niko Goodrum hit his eighth of the year, a solo shot in the second. And in the third, Harold Castro lined a 400-footer into the seats in right-center. It was a two-run shot that gave the Tigers a short-lived 3-2 lead.
The Tigers threatened in the eighth. Castro, hitting .416 on this road trip, and Miguel Cabrera singled to start the inning. Brandon Dixon ran for Cabrera.
Castellanos, against side-arming right-handed reliever Adam Cimber, hit a ground ball to Jason Kipnis at second. He tagged Dixon and threw out Castellanos. Initially it was ruled that Kipnis missed the tag on Dixon.
After a nearly three-minute review, the call was overturned — double play.
The Tigers put two runners on in the sixth, seventh and eighth and didn't score.
"Almost is a big word in baseball," Gardenhire said. "It doesn't really count for anything. All we can do is keep getting after it, which we're doing."
The Tigers gifted the Indians an insurance run in the eighth. Reliever Trevor Rosenthal, in his second appearance for the Tigers, walked Oscar Mercado and threw a pick-off attempt into the stands.
Mercado went to third on a long fly out to right. With one out, though, Rosenthal got Ramirez to pop it up into shallow center field. Shortstop Jordy Mercer and Castellanos converged on the ball and nobody called for it.
"Jordy went for the ball and thought he heard somebody (call it)," Gardenhire said. "Everybody else did, too. Communication."
Mercer was under it, but he peeled off and the ball dropped. The Tigers did get a force out at second base, but the run scored.
"Nobody likes coming in here after losing games, everybody is sick of it," Wilson said. "But the only way I know to get out of something like this is to play harder, to hustle and to work harder.
"That's my take on it. We're not going to keep sitting back and getting our teeth kicked in. We're going to keep fighting, keep going. That's kind of the message in here. Keep moving forward."