DETROIT -- On paper, this should not have been someone the Detroit Tigers struggled to hit. Minnesota Twins starter Kyle Gibson entered the game with an unsightly 5-9 record and a 5.34 ERA. If anything, this should’ve been someone Detroit's scuffling offense was eager to face.
However, the struggles became only more glaring for the Tigers on Tuesday night, after a meager effort in which they posted just one run, losing 8-1. It was only the second outing this season for Gibson in which he limited an opponent to one run or fewer. Meanwhile, Baltimore beat Boston and, along with Toronto, holds a two-game lead on the final pair of wild-card spots in the American League.
“It’s a given day. The guy pitched well. We’re struggling offensively. Combine those two factors, and we don’t score many runs and he ends up with good numbers. It is what it is,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “You’ve got to give some guys on the other side credit. I know you always want to point a finger at what’s going wrong here, but there’s guys on the other side making millions of dollars. They’re pretty good, too.”
The Twins entered the game with a 53-91 record, the worst in baseball, as well as the second-worst ERA (5.19) and fielding percentage (.979) in the majors. Suffice it to say, this was a team against which Detroit needed to rack up wins. The Tigers came from behind to steal a victory in the opener of the four-game series, but they looked listless on Tuesday night. And it wasn’t just offense that left something to be desired.
Detroit faltered from the mound as well, with young lefty Matt Boyd chased in the fourth inning after allowing seven runs on eight hits over 3⅔ innings. His command was off. His mechanics were faulty. His velocity was down. It was an overall poor performance for the 25-year-old, who has otherwise pitched really well of late. Boyd entered having surrendered three runs or fewer in each of his previous five starts.
“It just wasn’t working on all cylinders today,” Boyd said. “Mechanics were bad. I wasn’t repeating my delivery – what’s given me success since July. I was just out of sync today. I know what I need to do. I know the adjustments I need to make. I’m going to make 'em you can bet your dollar I’m gonna make the adjustments and be better the next time out."
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia did not have much by way of an explanation for Boyd’s performance.
“I don't know if it's mechanical or what. That's between him and [pitching coach Rich Dubee],” he said. “Tonight we just didn't execute our pitches. We didn't locate at all. And it doesn't matter what team you face, first place or last place, they're going to take advantage of mistakes. That's what they did tonight. We tried to keep grinding through and keep us in there, but we couldn't get the runs that we needed."
Frustration over a failed opportunity to capitalize against a weak opponent was palpable when Ausmus was pressed about the club’s potent offense going dormant.
“How many times have we talked about his?” he asked. “We’ve had slumps offensively. We’ve talked about this a number of times. I’ve changed the lineup a number of times. I’ve rested guys if they’ve been struggling.
“Sometimes,” he said, “we can’t control everything.”