Matthew Boyd receives little support in final start, Tigers tumble in Game 1
Chicago — Never again.
That should be the prevailing thought running through every Tigers player's mind this weekend.
Never again end a season like this, playing a string of irrelevant games in a near-empty stadium on wet and windy days, getting clobbered by a division rival who was 18 games under .500 and still 24 wins better than you.
After the scheduled doubleheader Friday was rained out, the White Sox and Tigers played two on Saturday. And the first one was predictably uninspiring. The Tigers gave up a pair of unearned runs early and a pair of home runs late in a 7-1 loss to the White Sox.
It was the final start of the season for Matthew Boyd and it was not indicative of how well he pitched most of the season. He gave up six hits and four runs in four innings, though he got very little support.
"I would like to see a team behind him that catches the ball a little better," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He will be the first to tell you he's left a few too many balls up over the plate this year and gave up too many home runs.
"But he's a really good pitcher. We're going to have a lot of young pitchers in camp next spring and not only is (Boyd) going to get himself better but he's going to help those guys out, too."
Boyd retired the first six batters in order, before second baseman Harold Castro booted a ground ball by Yolmer Sanchez leading off the third. Two unearned runs would ensue.
Sanchez scored on a single by Ryan Cordell, but Boyd looked like he was going to limit the damage. With two outs and runners at second and third, he appeared to be pitching around Jose Abreu, preferring to attack Eloy Jimenez.
But ball four eluded catcher Grayson Greiner and Adam Engel scored on the passed ball. Boyd, as baseball karma would have it, struck out Jimenez on three pitches.
The White Sox banged out four hits against Boyd in the fourth, but again, the Tigers’ defense was lax. With one out and Yoan Moncada on first, Sanchez lined one between Christin Stewart in left and Victor Reyes in center.
Neither got to the ball with any sense of urgency and Moncada scored from first. Sanchez scored on a single by Leury Garcia.
"I didn't realize I was done," said Boyd, who was lifted after 74 pitches. "I thought we had an awesome game plan today. Gave up six singles (five and one double); can't dictate where they place them, right? They were all solid pitches. We did what we wanted to."
Gardenhire explained the early hook.
"We just didn't want him to get killed," he said. "He was fine, he was pitching fine. But he was at 74 pitches and we just said that's enough."
It was just the fourth time Boyd pitched four innings or less in a career-high 32 starts. He finished with 238 strikeouts, fifth most by a lefty in club history.
"With everything that's gone on this year, the baseball side, the family side — you are just aware of it all," Boyd said. "Whether it was the birth of a child or the death of a loved one or a great outing — you learn from that and you get better from that and you move forward.
"You just continue to grow and get better."
The White Sox added a pair of home runs off reliever Edwin Jackson — a two-run shot by Danny Mendick in the sixth and a solo homer by Jimenez in the seventh.
Last Sunday, the Tigers hit three home runs off White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez, scoring five times off him in four innings. Different story this time.
Miguel Cabrera swatted a 95-mph fastball from Lopez into the left-field seats in the first inning, his 11th of the season and 476th of his career.
"That was pretty cool, but we didn't do much beyond that," Gardenhire said.
That was just one of four hits Lopez surrendered through eight innings. He gave up a leadoff single to Reyes in the ninth before departing.
The Tigers' last scoring chance against Lopez came in the second inning. John Hicks doubled and tried unsuccessfully to score on a single to left by Greiner. Hicks was out even though third baseman Moncada cut off the throw from left fielder Garcia.
It was the Tigers' 113rd loss.