On a misty day at Comerica Park, the Detroit Tigers’ bats sleep-walked through the afternoon and were handed their second shutout of the season. Behind starting pitcher Jakob Junis, the Kansas City Royals were able to escape the rain with a 1-0 victory, good for their first win of the season. Matthew Boyd was terrific in his first start of the season, but the Tigers couldn’t muster a single run to pick him up.
The Royals struck for the game’s only run in the second inning, getting a lead off double courtesy of a Cheslor Cuthbert cue-shot over Miguel Cabrera’s head at first base. Cuthbert advanced to third on a flyout from Paulo Orlando to center field, and then came home to score on a sacrifice fly from Jorge Soler.
Boyd worked up in the zone all afternoon with his fastball, and found success in the form of inducing flyouts to the spacious outfield of Comerica Park. He only allowed one run over six innings. Of the 18 outs Boyd recorded, 15 were via the fly ball, the most in any start of his career. He only struck out one Royals batter, but his command was good enough to not allow any free passes.
The Tigers bats were as cold as the weather in Detroit, as second-year starter Junis stifled their lineup for seven-plus innings of shutout ball, striking out six and allowing only three hits. The offense was so bad that in the sixth inning, Craig Monroe and John Keating were arguing over how the scoring should be done in Fox’s broadcaster game, Pick the Stick, considering no one was producing at the plate. Anyway, the Tigers looked confused by the entire concept of a curveball, and couldn’t even generate any loud outs.
Through the first seven innings of the game, the most exciting thing to happen for the Tigers was pitching coach Chris Bosio’s message to his wife on the jumbotron, which took place in the third inning.
Tigers pitching coach Chris Bosio sending a scoreboard birthday message to his wife between innings... pic.twitter.com/vPfiDpie9U— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) April 3, 2018
At least someone for the Tigers was scoring points.
Alex Wilson relieved Boyd in the seventh inning for his first appearance since setting a career high in pitches on Friday’s season opener against the Pirates. He threw an inning and two-thirds without allowing a baserunner while striking out two. Lefty Daniel Stumpf came in for the second day in a row to face left-handed hitting Jon Jay, and although he walked him, Stumpf recovered and induced a flyout to left field off the bat of Whit Merrifield to end the top half of the eighth.
In the bottom half of the eighth, Mikie Mahtook, who was in desperate need of a hit, blooped a leadoff single to knock Junis out of the game and give the Tigers their first baserunner since the fourth inning. Justin Grimm, who was designated for assignment by the Cubs in March, came on in relief and got Jose Iglesias to pop up on the first pitch. Dixon Machado then advanced Mahtook to second on a ground ball out, but Leonys Martin ended the threat with a soft flyout to Alex Gordon in left field.
Drew Verhagen looked impressive yet again in the ninth inning after relieving Stumpf with a man on and no outs. VerHagen came in an induced a ground ball that Iglesias made an incredible diving stop on and was able to flip it to Machado, who was able to turn the double play. For the Tigers half of the ninth, Royals closer Kelvin Herrera shut them down one-two-three despite one of the outs being a heat-seeking missile off the bat of Cabrera.
Hey, at least the game was under two and a half hours!
Who was the Tigers player of the game?
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Matthew Boyd (6.0 IP, 1 R, 1 K, 15 flyball outs)
Victor Martinez (1 H)
Mikie Mahtook (1 H)
Chris Bosio (Birthday message to wife)