Detroit — You knew Matthew Boyd was back in form when he dispatched the Twins on 10 pitches in the first inning, despite a lead-off single by Jorge Polanco. He was spotting his four-seam and two-seam fastball and mixing both his change-up and curveball effectively.
You knew his mechanics were smooth when he hit 94 mph with his fastball in the second inning. And you knew his mind was calm when he struck out Alex Avila and Miguel Sano after a two-base error by first baseman Jeimer Candelario on a ball hit at him by Max Kepler.
You knew he was on point when he was throwing change-ups on 2-0 counts, when he was keeping the Twins off-balance by mixing four-seam and two-seam fastballs, when he was getting late swings at 92 mph fastballs up in the zone.
Good day for Boyd, good day for the Tigers as they beat the Central Division-leading Twins 8-2 in the first game of a doubleheader at Comerica Park Saturday.
“You just keep going and learning every time you throw a pitch,” said Boyd, who after three starts had an ERA of just under 10. “You take it for what it is. It’s not good or bad, really. You just learn and go forward.
“It’s when you get out of that mindset and start searching instead of learning, that’s when you can spiral out of control.”
Boyd over his last starts has a 3.52 ERA with 21 strikeouts and four walks in 15.1 innings. No spiral here. On Saturday he allowed just one earned run — on a long home run by Nelson Cruz — and four hits in six strong innings, earning his first win since Sept. 22, 2019.
“Everything is predicated on the command of the fastball,” he said. “Command it arm side, command it glove side. That sets up everything else. Romey (catcher Austin Romine) did a really good job calling the game with that in mind.”
Boyd ended up with six strikeouts, getting 13 swings-and-misses. He got six whiffs with his change-up, four whiffs and 10 called strikes with his four-seam fastball. Impressive. As was the Tigers’ offense.
“That was awesome,” Boyd said of the Tigers’ 16-hit attack. “Our guys go out against one of the best pitchers in the American League and put their nose right on it. From the get-go they were putting pressure on him.”
The Tigers banged out 12 hits in 4.1 innings against Twins starter Randy Dobnak, who came in with a sub-2.00 ERA and five wins. Victor Reyes had a career-best four hits and every hitter in the lineup had at least one,
A two-out double by Christin Stewart, on a ball misplayed by left fielder Eddie Rosario, put the Tigers on the board in the second inning. In the third, Jonathan Schoop’s jam-shot blooped over the head of first baseman Sano and scored Willi Castro from third. The ball had an exit velocity of 49.6 mph off Schoop’s bat.
They scored two more in the fourth, again Dobnak didn’t get much help from his defense. JaCoby Jones hit a fly ball to deep center. Kepler ran it down on the warning track. He got his glove on the ball but he bobbled and dropped it.
It was scored a double and it sent Niko Goodrum to third. Stewart scored him with a sacrifice fly and Austin Romine singled home Jones.
The Tigers chased Dobnak in the fifth, scoring twice more.
A walk and two singles loaded the bases with one out. The Twins brought in lefty reliever Lewis Thorpe. Manager Ron Gardenhire countered by pinch-hitting right-handed hitting Jorge Bonifacio for lefty-swinging Stewart.
Bonifacio singled scoring Candelario from third. Goodrum, trying to score from second was thrown out at the plate by Rosario. But the third base umpire Randy Gonzalez ruled that Goodrum had been interfered with by third baseman Ehire Adrianza.
Goodrum was awarded the run.
Miguel Cabrera capped the scoring with a two-run double that one hopped the wall in center field. The hit was the 2,839th of his career, tying him with Charlie Gehringer for 50th all-time. Cabrera is now the 16th player in Major League history to rank in the top 50 in hits, home runs and RBIs.