No breaks: Matthew Boyd twirls gem, Mariners still sweep Tigers

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers starting pitcher Matthew Boyd scattered three hits and struck out 10 over 6.1 innings on Sunday.

Seattle — It's been a good weekend for Matthew Boyd.

He was back home with his family. He celebrated his daughter’s second birthday. And on Sunday, pitching back at the ballpark where he grew up rooting for Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson, he pitched another gem.

"It was really nice to be home and to be with family," said Boyd, who grew up and still has a home on nearby Mercer Island. "Got to see my grandpa, which are times I just cherish and to share my daughter's birthday with all the family being there is something you don't take for granted."

The only thing missing from the weekend for Boyd — who allowed a run and just three hits with 10 strikeouts in 6.1 innings — and the Tigers was a 'W.'

The Mariners tied the game in the bottom of the eighth against Joe Jimenez, then walked it off in the 10th against reliever Jose Cisnero — sweeping the four-game series from the Tigers, 3-2.

"A break is going to go our way in one of these ballgames and it's going to work out for us," manager Ron Gardenhire said after the club's sixth straight loss. "We just don't seem to come up with any breaks."

More: Grow as you go: Tigers rookie Alexander has a lot to process after third start

More: 'We don't want to just stand here and take this:' Roster moves afoot for Tigers?

The winning run scored on a flared single to center by J.P. Crawford, whom Boyd had struck out three times earlier in the game. It was the second time in the series the Mariners produced game-winning hits off Cisnero.  

"We played a good ballgame," Gardenhire said. "We pressure pitched through some tough situations late in the game. We just didn't score any more runs...Just not enough quality at-bats and you put yourself in a situation where one bad pitch can tie it up."

That's what happened in the eighth inning.

Domingo Santana, with two outs against Jimenez, hit an 0-2 fastball into the seats in left field.

"I know what he was trying to do," Gardenhire said. "He was trying to go up and off the plate and missed back over the middle. You have a lot of choices there. I am not going to second-guess, but you have a lot of pitches you can throw. 

"He just misfired."

Jimenez has one of the highest fastball spin rates in the game and that's what catcher John Hicks was playing on.

"Just sticking to his strengths," Hicks said. "Throwing the ball up in the zone. He's got that spin rate that guys can't get on top of it. It was just a little lower than we wanted it to be and he got to it."

Jimenez had dispatched 14 straight hitters over five outings before that blast.

Gardenhire talked before the game about using closer Shane Greene, regardless of situation since he hadn't pitched since Tuesday. But with the bullpen depleted, Buck Farmer and Blaine Hardy already used, and a chance to get a save situation if the Tigers could score, he never got in the game.

"He was probably next," Gardenhire said. "If we could've gotten a couple innings out of Cisnero, we would've had to use him (in a tie game). After Greene, though, we might've had to use a starting pitcher. We just didn't have anybody left."

More: Nick Quintana, Andre Lipcius lead class of six Whitecaps fast risers

Boyd used five pitches, but he really needed only his four-seam fastball and slider. They were electric. He got 11 swings and misses with both pitches and the average exit velocity on balls put in play against him was just 80 mph.

What ultimately got him in trouble were walks. He walked two in the seventh and with one out, gave up a line-drive double to left-handed hitting Kyle Seager. One run scored and Boyd, at 111 pitches, left to a warm ovation from fans behind the Tigers dugout.

"The ramifications of the walks, when it happens that late in the game, it gets magnified," Boyd said. "Joe and those guys shouldn't have been facing that part of the lineup at that time of the game.

"That's on me. I need to be sharper at the end. When you walk guys like that, it shifts the whole game."

The Tigers' offense, for the sixth straight game, couldn't muster more than two runs. 

It didn't help that they played without right fielder Nick Castellanos, who was scratched just 30 minutes before game — but it wasn’t because he’d been traded.

The Tigers made the precautionary move after Castellanos complained of abdominal tightness. The Tigers will re-evaluate him Monday.

"I expect to be in the lineup (Monday in Anaheim)," Castellanos said. "Just tightened up a little in the cage. Plus, I think Gardy's been looking for a way to give me a day off. I haven't had one in about 90 days." 

Niko Goodrum extended his hitting streak to eight games, hitting his 10th home run of the season to put the Tigers up 1-0 in the fourth inning. In his last 12 games, he’s hitting .382 (18-for-47) with three home runs.

Harold Castro, who replaced Castellanos in right field, made it 2-0 with an RBI single off left-handed pitcher Tommy Milone in the fifth.

"We played hard as a team and we played well as a team," Boyd said. "We just came out on the wrong end."


Twitter: @cmccosky