Improved Tigers set to take on Twins

MLB

Matthew Boyd has lost his last three starts. He hasn’t lost the belief he’s on the verge of a turnaround.

The Detroit Tigers left-hander, who came into the season as the team’s top starter, will once again seek his first victory in the opener of a four-game home series against Minnesota on Thursday.

In his last outing on Saturday, Boyd held Cleveland to two runs on five hits and struck out six in 5 1/3 innings. He didn’t allow a homer for just the second time in six starts. It went for naught as the Indians pulled away for a 6-1 victory.

Boyd (0-4, 8.48 ERA) felt confident with all of his pitches.

“I can pitch with a change-up. I can pitch with a curve. I can pitch with a slider and with a fastball,” he said to reporters afterward. “Whatever is working and whatever is needed.”

The Tigers need Boyd to start getting deeper into games. His outing in Cleveland was his longest this season. He’s surrendered four or more runs four times, although none were in his last two outings.

Manager Ron Gardenhire hopes Boyd will build off his most recent performance.

“That was the Matty Boyd that we’ve seen,” Gardenhire said. “That’s the good Matty Boyd. He was in command.”

Boyd has started against Minnesota 19 times, posting a 7-6 record and 4.86 ERA.

Boyd will be opposed by Cinderella story Randy Dobnak (5-1, 1.78 ERA). Just three years removed from pitching for the Utica (MI) Unicorns of the United Shore Professional Baseball League, Dobnak has become one of the majors’ most effective starters.

Though he pitches to contact (16 Ks in 30 1/3 innings), Dobnak has not allowed more than two runs in any of his starts. He didn’t give up an earned run over seven innings and two appearances against Detroit last season.

When he pitched for Utica after going undrafted out of college, Dobnak attended a Tigers game at Comerica Park. He never imagined while sitting in the right-field stands he’d be pitching on that same mound a couple of years later.

“That was the last thing I was thinking about,” he said.

The Twins are trying to hold off the White Sox and Cleveland Indians in the American League Central Division. They’ve been able to do that thus far despite injuries to starting position players Josh Donaldson, Byron Buxton and Mitch Garver as well as starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi.

They’re hopeful of getting all those players back for the stretch run.

“I look around our clubhouse and see a group that has every angle covered. We have the ability to do everything that we need to do to win baseball games,” manager Rocco Baldelli said, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “The organization never stops looking to acquire good talent, but we have a group we can lean on. We have depth in every area to cover what we need.”

Another injury cropped up in the Twins’ 6-3 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday. Outfielder Max Kepler left the game early after fouling a pitch off his foot. X-rays were negative.

The Twins will be playing the Tigers for the first time this season. Minnesota dominated the 19-game series last season, posting a 14-5 record.

Detroit has won its last two series, taking care of the Indians and Chicago Cubs following a nine-game losing streak. It’s the first time the Tigers have won back-to-back series since April 2019.

“We’re running (strong) right now, coming off some losses there early but we’re fighting every game for every series we can win,” catcher Austin Romine said in a postgame interview on FOX Sports Detroit.

–Field Level Media

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