Boyd bounces back against Twins
Matt Boyd had a week between starts against the Twins to make adjustment safter giving up seven runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings at Comerica Park. But he knew what the adjustments were relatively quickly.
“Not a whole lot of tweaking, more just refining,” Boyd said beforehand. “Sometimes there’s just one or two little things that can take you out of your delivery.
They were smaller tweaks. But the results were vastly different. It wasn’t just about the run difference, but the pitches that led to it.
Boyd had a half-dozen swings and misses from Twins hitters over 74 pitches last week in Detroit. This time around, he had a half-dozen swinging strikeouts. He had 13 swings and misses out of 99 pitches, seven off his fastball alone. And until back-to-back 15-pitch innings in the seventh and eighth, including a Robbie Grossman homer in the seventh, Boyd not only had a chance at his first career complete game; he had a chance to get it done in less than 100 pitches, known as a Maddux.
He didn’t get it, but he got arguably the best performance of his Major League career. And he got it against the team that handed him one of his worst starts of the season.
“It was good to see Boyd bounce back, really,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “He had an outstanding game. He did an excellent job. He saved our bullpen, pitched well, got the win. It was good for him to bounce back.”
The key to the difference was pitch location. When he missed his location last week, he missed by a lot, and he tended to miss over the middle of the plate. This time, he was more refined, missing by smaller margins and in areas where he couldn’t get pounded.
“The mechanical adjustment that we made, it’s just about location,” Boyd said. “If you can actually command it, it’s small, not big misses.”
He also had all of his pitches working at one time or another, no time more obvious than his five consecutive strikeouts from the end of the third inning into the fifth. Brian Dozier struck out swinging at an 89 mph slider, a pitch that didn’t get him results last time. The changeup that sent down Jorge Polanco swinging was a workhorse pitch for him most of the game. Robbie Grossman struck out on a foul tip off a 92 mph fastball. Kennys Vargas went down hacking at the slider. Kurt Suzuki chased the 0-2 changeup for a strikeout to lead off the fifth before Max Kepler hit the first pitch he saw from Boyd and grounded out.
Boyd retired 18 of 19 batters after Dozier led off Boyd’s outing with a single through the middle. Boyd had just two three-ball counts in that stretch, one of them the second-inning walk to Kepler that broke up the string.
“He just didn’t have his command when he saw the Twins the last time,” Ausmus said. “He had all four pitches working, used them all, but he was able to throw strikes.”
He didn’t use them all equally, moreso the fastball-changeup combination. Yet even with just 15 or so sliders and changeups, he got results, allowed no hits but inducing five swings and misses.