Detroit — Matthew Boyd, the ace of the Tigers’ rotation, has allowed 32 home runs this season, which is tied for third-most in the American League.
On Saturday, for the second time this week, he will be battling a Minnesota Twins team that went into play Friday six home runs shy of the Major League record for home runs in a season (261). They have seven players with at least 20 home runs. They’ve hit four off Boyd in two starts.
So, Matthew Boyd, knowing that, does it change your approach against them?
“Not really,” he said. “By insinuating that you’re saying your game has to change. What I do is going to be the same. Put Babe Ruth in there and I’m not going to be any different. Just because they have more power doesn’t mean I am going to go out there with more fear or be afraid to throw anything.
“That’s opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.”
The two home runs he gave up at Target Field Sunday accounted for two of the four hits and five of the seven runs he allowed in six innings. But the bigger problem for him that day were the five walks and one hit batsmen.
“That was the one thing I did wrong,” he said. “And it definitely ended up causing the score to be what it was. You just have to understand why it happened and make the adjustments going forward. You want to be aware of it in the moment and the make the adjustment on the next pitch.”
He was unable to do that on Sunday, but looking back on the start, he noticed he allowed himself to get sped up in his delivery and was coming down the mound too quick. But, as he said, every pitch of every game, there’s stuff going on.
“There are storms of every variety,” he said. “Seriously. You’re coming down the mound too fast. Or there’s a hole in the mound. Or the umpire’s not calling the pitches like you want. You just make the adjustment for the next pitch.
“You bring it back in and understand what you do. I didn’t do that in my last start very quickly. But none of that guarantees results. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I just know what I’ve got to do.”
Results and process are two very different things to Boyd. But the results are matter of permanent record, they often determine whether your team wins or loses and they end up being the basis of contract negotiations.
And the results say Boyd has been a vastly different pitcher the last three months than he was the first two. In his first 12 starts, he posted a 2.85 ERA, limited hitters to a .218 batting average, a .343 slugging percentage and a .614 OPS. He allowed seven home runs with 88 strikeouts and 15 walks.
In 15 starts since June 2, his ERA is 5.84. Opponents are hitting .253 and slugging .532 with an .841 OPS. He’s allowed 25 home runs with 120 strikeouts and 27 walks.
The Tigers were 6-6 in his first 12 starts, 2-13 in his last 15.
Boyd is aware of that, of course. He’s striving for better results – but only in the context of his process, how he controls the things he can control, how he executes the next pitch he throws.
“Everything is linear,” he said. “All you have is the next pitch. If you get too far ahead of that, then you’re not focused on the moment. If you think about how you were three months ago, you’re not where your feet are right now.
“It’s just understanding what you are doing right now. That’s all you have.”
Cabrera ready to go
Miguel Cabrera did not start on Friday, but, unlike the two previous games, he was available to pinch-hit.
“I’m ready to play,” he said before the game.
Cabrera has been out with tightness in his surgically-repaired left biceps. He took batting practice in the cage on Thursday and he was on the field taking batting practice on Friday.
“That’s a big step in the right direction,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s getting close.”
Around the horn
Former Tiger Nick Castellanos hit two more home runs for the Cubs on Friday, which amused Cabrera. “The home runs he’s got over there are outs here,” he said, laughing. “’Fly out to left field, good swing, Nick.’ I think he’s got four home runs that landed in that netting (at Wrigley Field).”
... Gardenhire reiterated there isn't likely to be a flood of call-ups when rosters expand on Sept. 1. Christin Stewart, Grayson Greiner and Jeimer Candelario will be called up. Pitcher Tyler Alexander is also expected to be recalled. Relievers Zac Reininger, John Schreiber, Victor Alcantara, Daniel Stumpf and Eduaro Jimenez may also be recalled.
… According to Statcast data, Harold Castro covered 124 feet to track and catch Francisco Lindor’s sacrifice fly in the seventh inning Thursday. Impressive. “He covers a lot of ground and he does it smoothly,” Gardenhire said. “He’s been playing very well.”
… The Tigers were shut out for the 13th time on Thursday. That’s the most in the American League and second only to Miami (19) in all baseball.
...The Tigers traded minor-league left-handed relief pitcher Caleb Thielbar to the Atlanta Braves for cash considerations. Thielbar, who has big-league time with the Twins, pitched at Triple-A Toledo.
Twins at Tigers
First pitch: 6:10 p.m. Saturday, Comerica Park, Detroit
►LHP Martin Perez (9-5, 4.53), Twins: He beat the Tigers last Sunday at Target Field, allowing two runs in six innings. He was carving up the Tigers' right-handed hitters with cutters; he threw 43 of them, and the Tigers put nine in play and got one hit.
►LHP Matthew Boyd (6-10, 4.47), Tigers: He can get some quick redemption after his forgettable start last Sunday against the Twins, where a season-high five walks and two more home runs cost him seven runs in six innings. Expect him to expand his repertoire this time, he stuck mostly to his four-seam and slider on Sunday.