DETROIT — Matt Boyd has quietly been one of the Detroit Tigers’ most consistent starters in the second half of the season.
Coming into Tuesday night, he was 5-1 since July 1 with a 2.56 ERA in 11 appearances, 10 of them as a starter. He hasn’t gotten the same attention as Justin Verlander or Michael Fulmer, but he’s been a big reason the Tigers have been able to stay in the wild-card race.
That’s why it was surprising when everything blew up in his face against the Minnesota Twins.
Boyd gave up seven runs, eight hits and a walk in 3 2/3 innings as the Tigers lost 8-1.
“I was just out of sync,” Boyd said. “I wasn’t right physically. I feel great, but my mechanics were off. I couldn’t repeat my delivery, and that’s a recipe for disaster.
“That can’t happen at this time of year.”
The Tigers lost for the third time in 14 games against Minnesota, costing them precious ground in a crowded race for the AL wild-card spots. They are now two games behind the Blue Jays and the Orioles and tied with the Yankees.
Kyle Gibson went eight innings for the Twins and didn’t allow a run after Miguel Cabrera’s first-inning single. He did have to navigate one major jam. In the fourth, with the Twins up 7-1, he walked Tyler Collins and Erick Aybar to load the bases with two out.
After a conference with pitching coach Neil Allen and catcher John Ryan Murphy, he threw three straight changeups to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. After two swinging strikes, Gibson got a routine pop fly to end the inning.
“That’s an offense that can put up runs in a hurry,” he said. “I wanted to limit them to zero or, at worst one. I had missed on seven straight heaters, so when Murph suggested the changeup, it sounded good to me.”
Gibson (6-9) threw a perfect fifth inning and never looked back. The win ended a four-start winless streak, including when Gibson allowed five runs in five innings to Detroit on Aug. 23.
Jorge Polanco homered and drove in four runs and Brian Dozier added three more hits to his torrid second half.
Dozier entered hitting .318 with 26 homers since the All-Star break. He’s hit safely in 17 consecutive games.
Buck Farmer saved Detroit’s bullpen by pitching 4 1/3 scoreless innings, but now the Tigers long reliever will be unavailable for starts by Anibal Sanchez and Mike Pelfrey on Wednesday and Thursday. Sanchez has struggled all year, while Pelfrey will be pitching for the first time since July and is expected to be on a low pitch count.
“He was outstanding, and it helped us a ton,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “That frees up the rest of the bullpen for the next couple days.”
Boyd got into trouble quickly, allowing two runs before recording an out. Dozier led off with a base hit and Polanco blooped a double down the right-field line. Robbie Grossman lined Boyd’s 11th pitch of the night into center for a two-run single, but the Tigers defense prevented further damage.
Kennys Vargas hit a hard grounder up the middle, but Jose Iglesias fielded it behind second and got off a backhanded flip toward the bag. Ian Kinsler caught it in his bare hand and threw in one motion to turn the double play.
After Cabrera got the Tigers on the board, Polanco’s two-run homer gave the Twins a three-run lead in the third. Grossman followed with a double, giving the top three in Minnesota’s order six hits in six plate appearances, including three doubles and a homer.
Polanco had two shots at the triple he needed for the cycle but popped out and walked.
Tigers: Justin Upton didn’t play after aggravating a calf injury on Monday. Upton, one of Detroit’s hottest hitters over the last three weeks, hopes to return within a day or two.
OLYMPIAN IN THE HOUSE
For the second day in a row, a medalist from the 2016 Summer Olympics threw out the first pitch. After boxing gold medalist Claressa Shields did the honors on Monday, it was Canadian Shelina Zadorsky, who won bronze as a member of the women’s soccer team after a college career at the University of Michigan.
The teams play the third of a four-game series Wednesday night, with Sanchez (7-13, 5.69) facing Minnesota’s Tyler Duffey (8-11, 6.13). Sanchez has shown some signs of improvement, going 1-1 with a 3.34 ERA in his last five starts.