Boyd battles, gives Tigers chance vs. Tribe

Boyd battles, gives Tigers chance vs. Tribe

CLEVELAND -- Seventy years ago, the Tigers ended a 19-game winning streak. It belonged to the 1947 Yankees, and it ended at what was then known as Briggs Stadium behind a two-hit shutout from a promising young Tigers pitcher named Fred Hutchinson, who became better known as a Tigers manager five years later.

The Tigers couldn't stop the Indians' march to 20 consecutive wins on Tuesday night, and Matthew Boyd couldn't duplicate Hutchinson. Francisco Lindor's leadoff home run in the first inning was all the Tribe needed behind ace Corey Kluber, though they added on an insurance tally.

What followed from Boyd, though, gave the Tigers a chance in an eventual 2-0 loss. With five innings of one-run ball and five strikeouts, Boyd provided a glimpse of why the club still views him as a young starter with promise.

Moreover, with a 1.91 ERA in five career outings against the Indians -- including two outings of five innings and one run against them this month -- Boyd, who has pitched better than any Tigers starter since Justin Verlander was traded to the Astros on Aug. 31, has a very good stat in his case to stay in the rotation plans going into next year.

"He's pitched as well as anyone in our starting rotation," manager Brad Ausmus said.

This one was a labor. Boyd was trailing one batter in, thanks to Lindor's home run capping an eight-pitch at-bat, and the Indians had plenty of opportunity for more runs. The Tribe loaded the bases in the second on three straight one-out singles, and again the next inning on two singles and a two-out walk.

Boyd K's Gomes

Both times, Boyd escaped. He struck out Yan Gomes in the second with a breaking ball in the dirt, then went to a full count on Lindor before getting a popup behind home plate. With two on and none out in the third, Boyd struck out Edwin Encarnacion looking at a curveball and fanned Carlos Santana on a fastball. Jay Bruce walked to load the bases, but a first-pitch fly ball from Yandy Diaz got Boyd out of the third.

"That's something you have to pride yourself on in situations like that," Boyd said. "When guys are battling you, you have to be able to throw any pitch in any count. If they're fouling off fastballs, you have to go to other stuff. You have to be able to do that and keep rolling."

Those jams still came at a price. Boyd threw 81 pitches through three innings, and an 11-pitch at-bat with Gomes in the fourth put Boyd on the brink.

"In the past, he's had trouble avoiding the big inning," Ausmus said. "I guess in that sense, he avoided the big inning with the two-base situations, but it pushed his pitch count real high."

With Blaine Hardy warming, Boyd could not afford another jam if he wanted to see the fifth inning. He retired Lindor on a liner to center on his 100th pitch of the night, earning him a chance to pitch the fifth.

"I wanted Boyd to stay out there," Ausmus said.

Boyd responded with his cleanest inning of the night. Austin Jackson grounded out back to Boyd. Jose Ramirez grounded out to short. Once Boyd fanned Encarnacion again, this time chasing a fastball up and out of the zone, Boyd had done his job to give the Tigers a chance.

"I think Boyd worked through a lot of tough innings," Ian Kinsler said. "There was a lot going on. He worked through a lot of trouble and kept us in the game. I think he did a great job of that. I thought our relievers did, too.

"It was a good job by our pitchers. Offensively we just couldn't get anything moving."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.