Haase's 20th homer not enough, Reds rock Boyd and even series with Tigers
Cincinnati — When Matthew Boyd walks the first hitter of the game, that's generally an indication something is amiss.
"I didn't punch first today," he said. "It's being in the zone early, attacking from pitch one and being on the offensive. But that first hitter set the tone in that sense. Our team scored four runs off a good pitcher tonight and that's more than enough to win."
Staked to a 3-0 lead by Eric Haase’s 20th home run of the season in the top of the third inning, Boyd gave it all back and more in the bottom of the third as the Cincinnati Reds beat the Detroit Tigers 7-4 Saturday and evened the interleague series on a rainy night at Great American Ball Park.
It was just Boyd's second start since he came off the injured list and some efficiency issues are expected. Pitching in a steady drizzle, he needed 47 pitches to get through the first two innings, though he only allowed one hit and two walks.
"He was scrambling from the get-go and living on the edge," Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. "Until they had a couple of big swings in the third inning. Just an inefficient night for him."
The Reds locked in on him in the third.
With one out, Tyler Stephenson singled, Nick Castellanos doubled and Joey Votto singled in the first run. Eugenio Suarez’s sacrifice fly brought home the second. The knockout blow came one batter later.
Aristides Aquino ambushed a first-pitch slider from Boyd and lined it into the seats in left — a three-run homer.
"This doesn't mean much, but I threw some of the best sliders I threw all year," Boyd said. "I threw some of the best curve balls and even some of the best fastballs. Unfortunately, there were circumstances when I didn't throw a good slider and it got hit out of the yard.
"It was the one I didn't want to throw all day as far as the shape. That's a three-run mistake and it was the difference in the game."
Boyd ended up throwing 83 pitches in four innings, tagged with the five runs and seven hits. He did line an opposite-field single in the fourth inning, though, his second hit this season.
"This is kind of uncharted water for me," he said of coming back off a long IL stint. "I've never experienced any of that. It's something that's got to be done. I know what I have to do going forward and I know the best is in front of me."
Haase had hit just one home run since Aug. 1 and had been stuck on 19 homers since Aug. 13. But with two on in the third, he turned around a 96-mph fastball from Reds starter Tyler Mahle and sent it 408 feet into the stands in left.
The ball left his bat with an exit velocity of 107 mph.
"It's good to kind of get that off my back," Haase said.
He is the first Tiger who has caught at least 60% of their games to hit 20 home runs in a season since Mickey Tettleton did it in 1992.
The Tigers cut the Reds lead to one in the top of the fifth, and a great defensive play by second baseman Jonathan India prevented further damage. With the bases loaded and one out, catcher Dustin Garneau worked a nine-pitch walk from Mahle.
He fouled off three high fastballs with the count full before earning the walk and the RBI that cut the deficit to 5-4.
Derek Hill followed with a skidding ground ball to the right side of the infield. India moved quickly to his left and made a sliding stop of the ball on the wet ground, spun on his knees and threw out the speedy Hill at first. He saved two runs.
"This is the big leagues, they make plays," Hinch said. "We were still in the game. Two runs is nothing at this level when you fight the fight. They did make a big-time play there. India is a nice player, this is the first time I've seen him in person.
"In a close game you look back at some of those plays. That would've been a big swing in our favor."
The Reds widened the gap in the seventh, cashing in on two walks by reliever Joe Jimenez. With two outs, pinch-hitter Tyler Naquin brought both runners home with a triple into the right-field corner.
Jimenez threw a slider down and off the plate, but Naquin was able to drop the barrel on it and hook it down the line past a diving Miguel Cabrera.
Right-hander Drew Carlton, whose contract was purchased from Toledo Saturday, made his big-league debut, ending the seventh on one pitch, getting Delino DeShields to fly out to right fielder Robbie Grossman.
Hinch had planned for Carlton to pitch the eighth inning, too, but botched the double-switch.
"I screwed that up," Hinch said. "There's really no excuse for it. It's unfortunate."
He'd meant to double-switch with Haase, which would have put the pitcher in the fifth hole. Instead, he switched Baddoo with Hill in center with Hill's spot coming up third in the eighth.
He ended up using Niko Goodrum to pinch-hit for Carlton.
"It was my fault and it's embarrassing," Hinch said. "It didn't end up hurting us. I wanted Niko to bat against the right-handed reliever for a chance to pop a home run in this ballpark. So all's well that ends well, but that was a bad manager error."
It actually almost worked out in the Tigers' favor. Had Miguel Cabrera not ended the game grounding into a double-play, Haase would have been up to bat with at least one runner on in the ninth.