'It's on me': Matthew Boyd gives up four more home runs as Mariners crush Tigers
Detroit — Niko Goodrum and Brandon Dixon both left the clubhouse without speaking to the media following the Tigers' ugly, 11-6 loss to the Seattle Mariners Tuesday night.
That left manager Tigers Ron Gardenhire to explain how they nearly collided on two fly balls with game-altering consequences.
"You can't have plays like that if you want to win baseball games," Gardenhire said. "That play blows us up. It really did affect us for a few innings and we didn't ever really recover."
Before we delve into that, though, there's the matter of how the home run ball is threatening to destroy Matthew Boyd's breakout season.
"I take full responsibility for this loss," he said. "It's on me. I've got to be better, especially lately. A few bad pitches and they happen to be home runs. I want a few of them back, for sure."
The Tigers ace gave up four more home runs Tuesday night.
Kyle Seager and Tom Murphy hit back-to-back home runs off Boyd in the fourth inning. And they did it again in a six-run sixth inning. Seager’s second was a three-run blast to right field that put the Mariners up for good. Murphy’s second traveled 429 feet to the back of the left-field seats.
For good measure, Seager added a third home run — a two-run shot in the ninth against reliever Jose Cisnero — giving him a career-high six RBIs. The last one was a gift, though, the product of the second DIxon-Goodrum near-collision.
"If you want to look at tonight, I got rotational on a slider to Seager and then I got lazy with a fastball when I thought he wasn't going to swing," Boyd said. "Both of those are easily correctable and I have full control over that.
"With Murphy, I just missed my spot twice. If I get those pitches in just a little more, then it's a different outcome."
Boyd has now allowed seven home runs in his last eight innings of work. His 30 home runs allowed this season are a career-high. He has allowed 19 at Comerica Park, one short of Justin Verlander’s record set in 2016.
It’s been an alarming reversal of fortunes for Boyd.
Prior to June 1, he had a 2.85 ERA and had allowed just seven home runs in 72.2 innings. In 73.1 innings since, he’s posted a 5.89 ERA and allowed 23 home runs.
"There's also been three or four starts in there where (home runs) weren't an issue," he said. "It just ebbs and flows. The last three starts I've been battling a little adjustment and it was better today — just the times it wasn't came back to bite me.
"You understand why it's happening. But if you look at a grouping of starts and say this is where it started happening, that's kind of short-sighted in my opinion. Each outing is a little different."
The Tigers had erased a 3-1 deficit with a little firepower of their own. John Hicks hit a solo home run and Jake Rogers hit a two-run home run in a four-run bottom of the fourth.
Rogers has seven hits since being called up from Triple-A Toledo, four of them home runs. He has as many home runs at Comerica (three) as Miguel Cabrera and Nick Castellanos.
He's also the first catcher in Tigers history to hit four home runs in his first 11 big-league games.
Goodrum, who hustled a routine single into a double and scored on a double by Cabrera in the third, put his legs to good use again in the fourth. He sprinted down the first base line to nix a double-play, took third on a double by Dawel Lugo and sprinted home on a wild pitch that caromed only a few feet away from catcher Murphy.
The Tigers extended the lead in the fifth on a two-out double by Jordy Mercer.
And it looked at that point like Boyd was settling in. He pitched a clean fifth inning and got the first hitter in the sixth. Daniel Vogelbach then lifted a routine fly ball to left-center. Dixon was in position to catch the ball, but as Goodrum came racing over from center, left fielder Dixon pulled back and the ball fell in.
"The ball was cutting right back to Dixon," Gardenhire said. "He was camped right underneath it and Goody came flying in there. There's really no reason for that. That's a mistake on Goody's part.
"You've got to keep your eyes and head up. He's running hard to make a play, but you still have to be aware of what the ball is doing. A left-handed hitter and the ball is slicing back toward left."
Boyd did not retire another hitter.
"That had no bearing," Boyd said. "I just have to be better there. Those guys have picked me up so many times, it's my job to pick them up, too. I didn't do that."
Dixon and Goodrum would nearly collide again in the ninth inning, on a long, slicing fly ball by Seager, This time, Goodrum inadvertently swatted the ball over the fence as he was trying to avoid colliding with Dixon.
"It's a left-handed hitter and the ball is coming back to left field," said Gardenhire, who wasn't accepting the unfamiliarity of the two players in the outfield as an excuse. "The center fielder has to understand that. Goody's been in the outfield plenty of times. He knows those things.
"It's just guys trying to do too much and that's what happens."
The balls have been flying out of Comerica Park on this current homestand. The Tigers and White Sox combined for six homers, the Tigers and Royals for 19, and there were seven hit in this first game of this three-game set.
"I have complete confidence, I know I am going to get better from this going forward," Boyd said. "Over the next five days I will make the adjustments like I need to. I never guarantee success, but I know I will put myself in the best position to be the best pitcher I can be."
In the meantime, the misery that is 2019 continues:
Record since the All-Star break — 7-24
Record at Comerica Park — 16-42
Record against A.L. West — 3-20
After the game, the Tigers optioned reliever John Schreiber (Rockwood) back to Triple-A Toledo. A corresponding move will be made Wednesday. Gardenhire said he expected Schreiber to be back up once rosters expand Sept. 1.