'Out of sync': Walks, missed spots doom Matthew Boyd, Tigers against Twins
Minneapolis — Having extra rest between starts, while not optimal, doesn’t typically bother Tigers ace Matthew Boyd much.
In six starts with six or more days of rest this season, he’s 3-2 with a 4.95 ERA, 48 strikeouts and a .739 opponents’ OPS.
On Sunday, though, making his first start in seven days after the birth of his son Isaiah, Boyd had more than a little rust to shake off.
"It's just what happened, there is no excuse for it," said Boyd, who walked a career-high five batters, hit another and yielded two more long home runs as the Twins finished off the three-game series with a 7-4 win over the Tigers.
Boyd gave up the seven runs on just four hits. When he came into the dugout after his day was over, he told manager Ron Gardenhire that he spent too much time worrying about his mechanics and his grip on the ball and not enough on attacking the hitters.
"You never know what the results are going to be, right, but you want to put yourself in the best position to have success — and for me that's attacking the glove," Boyd said. "I got a little out of sync and got away from what was in front of me.
"I was worrying about what was happening on the rubber instead of what was in front of me and when that happens, you're not reading swings and you get out of that attack-on-every-pitch mindset."
Boyd walked the leadoff hitter in the first three innings. He had walked the leadoff hitter in an inning just 13 times in his previous 153 innings. Two of the walks and the one hit batsmen ended up scoring.
He threw a slider to C.J. Cron on the wrong side of the plate in the fourth inning and the ball landed in the berm in center field — a three-run homer.
"It was the pitch I shook to, I just didn't do a good job of reading the swing before that," Boyd said.
He left another slider over the plate to Jonathan Schoop with two outs in the sixth inning that resulted in another scalded home run inside the foul pole in left.
Those were home runs Nos. 31 and 32 hit off Boyd this season — the most homers allowed by a Tigers pitcher since 2003, when Mike Maroth established a club record by allowing 34.
"That's an area he has to improve and I know he knows he can," Gardenhire said. "It's about making quality pitches in bigger situations. But he's a pretty darn good pitcher and he's got great stuff. He will make the adjustment.
"He's an aggressive pitcher and aggressive pitchers have a tendency to give up some home runs."
Boyd doesn't shy away from the topic. He will tell you, correctly, that there have been a record number of home runs hit across baseball this season and the Twins are 14 home runs away from tying the major league single-season record of 267.
"You want to miss bats and I think I have done that," said Boyd, whose 208 strikeouts rank fifth in the American League. "It may not be believable to the average (fan) but some of these have been as simple as — I put the ball there and I should have put it on the other side of the plate.
"A lot of times that's been the case, just not reading the swing like I want to or I missed a spot."
The volume of home runs, while a concern, is not going to make Boyd change his attack mentality or his repertoire.
"It's very controllable in terms of making an adjustment," he said. "It's nothing where I'm sitting here thinking, 'OK, I need to create a fifth or sixth pitch.' It's unfortunate that this is what's happened, it's been kind of my Achilles' heel.
"But today, the walks were my undoing."
Jordy Mercer and John Hicks keyed the Tigers' offense, which came in a pair of two-run bursts. Mercer, who made his first start at first base, had a pair of doubles and knocked in a run.
Hicks had a double, single and two RBIs.
The Tigers, who are off on Monday, finished a stretch of 24 games in 24 days, with 13 of them on the road. They went 7-17 in that stretch.
"I just think we are playing better baseball," Gardenhire said. "We're doing a lot of things we want to see. We're running the bases better, putting some good swings together, getting multiple hits.
"We're going home now and that's where we really have to start playing better. We've not been very good at home and this club has to pick it up. I hope we can show our fans some of the things we've been doing on the road."