Coming into game number 33 of the season, the Tigers have done about as well as anyone could have expected, thanks to some rather unexpected contributions by the pitching staff. Leading the way has been Matthew Boyd and his phenomenal breakout performance that has him featured as one of the top pitchers in baseball.
Boyd currently sits on the top 10 leaderboard in several categories among major league starters.
With the Tigers’ ace taking to the mound on Wednesday in Detroit against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — possibly the worst alliterative team name ever — they evened the home series against their west coast nemesis with an emphatic 10-3 victory.
Both teams started out quickly in this game, with the Angels jumping out in front on a leadoff home run from David Fletcher. Boyd would quickly settle down and get the rest of the Angels out in order. The Tigers answered back in the bottom of the frame on a two-out, two-run triple off the red-hot bat of Ronny Rodriguez, driving in Nicholas Castellanos and Miguel Cabrera to take the lead 2-1.
The Angels went down in order in the top of the second, while the Tigers did slightly better thanks to an eight-pitch, full-count walk by Gordon Beckham. They otherwise went down with a whimper to end the side.
Los Angeles made things interesting in the top of the third, putting runners in scoring position only to set the table for Boyd’s heroics. With runners on second and third, the Tigers’ ace punched out Mike Trout on a well sequenced swinging strike on a pitch high and inside after a tough battle against the best player in baseball. He then got Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani to ground out to Jeimer Candelario to end the threat.
In the bottom of the inning, the Tigers also made things interesting, with Castellanos reaching first on a hit-by-pitch and Cabrera following up on the next pitch with a line-drive single to center field. After a quick lineout to right field by Niko Goodrum, Rodriguez came through again with an RBI single to score Castellanos. John Hicks would then plate Cabrera on a sky-high sacrifice fly to right field, making it a 4-1 game. Brandon Dixon would end the inning with a foul-tip strikeout with a runner stranded at third base.
Working with a comfortable cushion thanks to the offense, Boyd got rolling in the fourth needing only 10 pitches to shut down the side. The Tigers would also go down in similar fashion in the bottom of the frame on only four pitches, including two first pitch outs by Beckham and JaCoby Jones, giving Boyd the ball back; he continued to buzzsaw through the Angels order with another 10-pitch inning. What’s that about pace of play issues?
The first two Tigers failed to get on base in the fifth, which left Goodrum to keep the inning alive with a base hit. Rodriguez followed up with an RBI double, continuing his torrid pace and putting him a home run away from hitting for the cycle. Hicks, not wanting to be left out of the bottom-of-the-order hit parade, laced a double into the left field gap to plate another run for a 6-1 lead. Dixon, not wanting to look like a schlub, poked a ground ball single to bring home Hicks and further pad the lead. Brad Ausmus finally pulled his starter, Tyler Skaggs, out of the game, ending his misery after leaving him in a bit longer than he probably should have.
Clutch hitting from Ron-Rod tonight! Here's his double that broke the game open. ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/cgoHYzJHJF— Adam Dubbin (@AdamDubbin) May 9, 2019
Beckham greeted reliever Noe Ramirez by drawing a walk. With a runner still on third, Jones hit a tough grounder to the third baseman Zack Cozart, who threw the ball offline to first to allow Jones to reach base and Dixon to score on the error. Candelario would finally end the two-out rally with a three pitch strikeout.
Boyd entered the sixth having retired nine straight batters. His dominance continued, including another strikeout of Trout, until he hit Ohtani with a pitch. After that, the Tigers’ ace gave up a hit before ending the threat with a fly out from Albert Pujols. The bottom of the frame saw the heart of the Tigers’ lineup go down in order.
Daniel Stumpf relieved Boyd to begin the seventh, and promptly gave up a homer to Jonathan Lucroy before finishing the frame without any further damage. The Tigers again went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning, including a missed opportunity by Rodriguez to hit for the cycle.
Joe Jiménez came in to pitch the eighth with a large lead and little pressure. He responded by striking out Trout (just the second time this season Trout has struck out three times in a game) and Ohtani, sending the Angels back to the bench in order, and bringing the blowout the closer to the end. The Tigers, however had other plans.
Beckham led off the eighth with a triple off the wall in the deep recesses of Comerica’s right-center field, followed by a Jones no-doubt home run to left center, bringing the Tigers’ run total into double digits for a 10-2 lead. As the order reset back to the top, the next three Tigers hitters failed to reach base, turning the inning over to the Angels for their last chance to pull a miraculous rally.
That rally would not come to be. Reed Garrett came in to shut the door on Los Angeles despite allowing one last run. He allowed a leadoff single to Andrelton Simmons, who eventually reached third base with only one out. After striking out Brian Goodwin, Simmons scored on a goofy ground ball double down the third base line by Lucroy. A walk to Kole Calhoun made things interesting, and Garrett upped the ante by loading the bases on a single to Cozart. He managed to induce a ground ball to end the threat and the game.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the game
Great: Ronny Rodriguez was an absolute beast this evening, providing a spark and the lion’s share the the Tigers’ offense en route to a blowout of Anaheim. Only a home run short of the cycle, Rodriguez’s prowess at the plate was on display for all to see.
Good: Matthew Boyd was on top of his game again. After a lead-off home run to begin the game, he settled down and shut out the Angels for six strong innings, notching six strikeouts and giving up zero walks in the process.
Also Good: The bottom of the Tigers’ batting order, who were responsible for the two-out, four-run fifth inning that broke the game open allowing Boyd to cruise to a well-deserved notch in the win column. A few extra runs during garbage time is not too shabby either.
Tweet of the Game:
We do not want to get ahead of ourselves, but maybe there is something special about Ron-Rod.
On the double, Rodriguez's helmet flew off between first and second base. Afterwards, Albert Pujols handed it to him in a passing of the torch moment.— Anthony Fenech (@anthonyfenech) May 9, 2019
Who was the player of the game?
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The entire Tigers offensive effort