Detroit — It was suggested to Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire that Matthew Boyd's five-inning effort in the 10-4 loss to the Yankees in Game 1 of the doubleheader Thursday was gritty.
"There's a lot of things you can call it," Gardenhire said.
True enough. Laborious would be another word for it. Curious, would be another. But the bottom line is, Boyd allowed just three hits and two unearned runs in five innings that took him 92 pitches to complete.
He also gave up two more home runs — two-run blasts to Luke Voit (a 449-footer into the bushes in center field) and Edwin Encarnacion. That's 38 on the season, most in the majors. Boyd is four short of the Tigers’ club record of 42 set by Denny McLain in 1966.
But even that wasn't the story.
"Him and the catcher didn't do well today," Gardenhire said. "That was my biggest disappointment. The game took forever. Their guy (J.A. Happ) wasn't exactly quick and Boyd was slow.
"We'll have to make an adjustment there. They just weren't on the same page."
It was the third time rookie Jake Rogers has caught Boyd this season. Boyd was stepping off and shaking off signs all game, but it seemed to come to a head in the fifth inning — which also ended up being Boyd's most impressive inning.
Boyd gave up a leadoff double to Austin Romine, then with one out walked Aaron Judge and Encarnacion. Boyd was repeatedly shaking off signs from Rogers in the inning.
"I didn't do a good job of conveying what I wanted to do," Boyd said. "That's completely on me. I need to do a better with that going forward. That's on me that we weren't on the same page."
Boyd walked Judge after again having him in an 0-2 hole. Then after he walked the free-swinging Encarnacion, pitching coach Rick Anderson came out to straighten things out.
With his pitch count climbing over 30 in the inning, Boyd did not unravel.
He won a seven-pitch fight with Voit (fly out to shallow right) and an eight-pitch fight with Didi Gregorius, finally getting him to whiff on a slider in the dirt. Gregorius had fouled off three straight pitches with the count even, 2-2, the last two were 94-mph fastballs.
Boyd walked off the field with his head held justifiably high. It was a gutty effort. But peculiar, too. The four walks were uncharacteristic but can be at least partially attributed to Yankees’ offensive prowess. He had just three strikeouts and 10 swings and misses.
A five-pitch pitcher, Boyd basically used only his four-seam fastball (51) and slider (35). He threw four change-ups, one two-seamer and one curve. He was asked if some of the confusion was caused by Rogers perhaps trying to force him to throw his secondary pitches more often.
"You can't pin it on one pitch," Boyd said. "It was a variety, just wanting to attack guys differently. That was the issue and it's nothing he did wrong. It's on me. It's my game. When stuff like that happens, I need to do a better job of conveying what I want to do."
Aside for the battery drama, this was a not a well-played game by the Tigers — seven walks, three errors, a wild pitch and a balk.
Errors by third baseman Dawel Lugo and first baseman Jeimer Candelario in the first inning got Boyd off on the wrong foot and set the table for Voit's home run.
After Lugo's two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth made it a 4-2 game, the Yankees countered with three in the seventh. Former Tiger Cameron Maybin, who had walked, stole two bases and made a diving catch earlier, delivered a two-run double off rookie reliever Bryan Garcia.
Garcia uncorked a wild pitch with the bases loaded to score the first run of the inning.
A defensive miscue, of sorts, cost the Tigers three more runs in the eighth. With runners at first and second against lefty Matt Hall, Mike Ford hit a line drive that second baseman Ronny Rodriguez snared going toward second base.
Had he looked at second base, he could have easily doubled-up Romine, who had strayed off the base. Instead, Rodriguez threw late to first. Given the extra out, the Yankees scored three runs, one on a single by Voit and two on a triple by Gregorius.
"We made a lot of young mistakes out there," Gardenhire said. "We've got to get better. They kill you when you make mistakes like that."
Tigers rookie right fielder Travis Demeritte, mired in a 6-for-50 skid, homered in the eighth, his third home run since being acquired from the Braves on July 31.
Encarnacion, who has 34 homers, left the game after the fifth with a left oblique strain. He was expected to return to New York for further tests.