He walked the next batter before manager Ron Gardenhire removed him from the game. Boyd had thrown 105 pitches.
And when reliever Jose Cisnero got Edward Olivares to ground into a force-out, Boyd — sitting in the dugout — officially pitched a scoreless outing for the first time since May 28, 2019.
It's been 476 days.
The offense showed up with 14 hits, but it was Boyd who set the tone for the Tigers (21-26) in a 6-0 victory over the Royals at Comerica Park. He only allowed two hits — something he hasn't done since Aug. 18, 2019.
Detroit snapped a three-game losing skid and, as of Tuesday night, trails the Cleveland Indians by five games for the AL's eighth and final spot in the expanded 16-team postseason.
The Tigers wrap up a two-game slate with the Royals on Wednesday with left-hander Tarik Skubal before hosting four against the Indians from Thursday through Sunday.
Of Boyd's 105 pitches, he used 55% fastballs, 25% change-ups, 10% sliders and 10% curveballs. He got 11 swinging strikes — five with his change-up — and 14 called strikes.
He was much improved from his last start in a Sept. 9 contest against the Milwaukee Brewers, where he was throttled for seven runs in the Tigers' 19-0 loss. This time, he left a zero on the board in the runs category through 5⅔ innings, only conceding two hits and four walks. He struck out five batters.
In five of his last six starts, leaving out the implosion to the Brewers, Boyd has only given up eight earned runs in 27 innings.
Boyd's last scoreless start (May 2019) came in a 3-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. He had eight strikeouts but allowed six hits.
Cabrera powers up, helps chase Junis
For the first time since Sept. 2, Miguel Cabrera recorded an extra-base hit.
And for the first time since Aug. 29, he crushed a home run.
In the bottom of the third, Cabrera drove a one-out, first-pitch 90.4 mph fastball from Royals starter Jakob Junis the opposite way and into the right-field seats. It was his sixth homer of the season and moved him to 10 long balls away from tying Fred McGriff and Lou Gehrig for 28th in MLB history.
More importantly, he gave Boyd a four-run lead. Jeimer Candelario and Niko Goodrum followed up with singles to chase Junis. Reliever Jake Newberry walked Jorge Bonifacio to load the bases with one out for catcher Austin Romine.
Although Romine flew out to center field, it was enough to drive in Candelario for a 5-0 edge.
Junis only made it through 2⅓ innings and allowed five earned runs, which is a surprise considering the 27-year-old only lost one game in seven starts at Comerica Park before dropping Tuesday's clash. Those five runs were scored on seven hits and one walk.
Cabrera was 2-for-2 with three walks.
Leave 'em loaded
Against righty reliever Tyler Zuber in the fifth inning, the Tigers loaded the bases with no outs, thanks to walks from Cabrera and Goodrum, plus Candelario's second single of the game.
The next three batters, however, struck out: Bonifacio (looking), Romine and rookie Isaac Paredes.
Up the middle
The Royals were threatening in the first inning when Salvador Perez poked a grounder to shortstop Willi Castro, who is staying at that position despite Goodrum's return from the 10-day injured list.
Without thinking twice, Castro fired the baseball to Romine. Two batters earlier, Whit Merrifield reached with a leadoff double and stole third base. But on his attempt to score, he didn't slide — giving Romine an easy tag to keep the Royals off the board.
Goodrum played second base, but the Tigers weren't concerned about his defense. They want to see offensive production after he rehabbed from a right oblique strain in Toledo. In 31 games entering Tuesday, he had a .186 batting average.
He gave the ballclub a positive sign with a two-out RBI single to start the scoring. Goodrum was followed by Bonifacio, who drove in two runs for a 3-0 lead with another single.
Goodrum finished 2-for-4 with one RBI and one walk. Castro tossed in a sixth-inning homer, his fourth of the year, to put the Tigers ahead by six runs. He ended with three hits.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here's how you can gain access to our most exclusive Detroit Tigers content.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Tigers' Matthew Boyd throws 5 scoreless in dominant win over Royals