Boyd bears down after rough 1st vs. Royals

Boyd bears down after rough 1st vs. Royals

KANSAS CITY -- As a catcher, Brad Ausmus said he didn't like pitchers making adjustments until hitters had shown the ability to make adjustments to them. In other words, don't assume a hitter is going to make the leap.

As a manager, Ausmus saw the first three Royals hitters jump Matt Boyd's fastball in Monday night's 4-0 loss to the Royals and had to be wary of disaster.

"A lot of young pitchers wouldn't have recovered from that first inning," Ausmus said.

From a raw results standpoint, it meant nothing in the Tigers' loss, the way that Johnny Cueto was pitching. From a developmental standpoint, Ausmus and others learned a little about Boyd in his second start as a Tiger and his fourth in the Majors.

They learned he's a quick learner.

"They came out swinging in the first, but I liked what I saw out of him," catcher Alex Avila said. "He came right back after that first inning, made the pitches to get out of that and limited the damage to three runs. He pitched his butt off the rest of the way."

They also learned he's not one for excuses.

"I didn't execute pitches in the first inning," Boyd said. "That's just what it comes down to."

If that sounds familiar, there's a little bit of a young Justin Verlander in that mentality.

Boyd wasn't executing his fastball the way he did against the Royals last Wednesday at Comerica Park, where they popped up one fastball after another over seven innings of one-run ball. The Royals, meanwhile, were looking for fastballs up and got it where they wanted.

"Mainly I was trying to live down," Boyd said. "I just threw them down the middle. Instead of being down, they were right there. They were ready to get hit. I just didn't execute."

Alcides Escobar and Ben Zobrist hit first-pitch fastballs for singles. Lorenzo Cain worked the count until Boyd had to throw him a fastball, then hit it to the left-field fence for a two-run double. After Eric Hosmer fanned chasing a slider, Kendrys Morales got ahead in the count and lined a fastball to left for another run.

"They ambushed him," Ausmus said.

Something had to change.

"It very easily could've been five-, six-nothing," Avila said. "We definitely had to switch up what we were trying to go with after those first few hitters. He was a little bit wild today, left some pitches up but basically we just kind of had to go to the kitchen sink after that and mix it up well. And he did that.

"Basically we tried to be as unpredictable as possible. I thought he really bore down, showed some composure and was able to pitch a real nice ballgame."

Boyd lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowing five more hits but no more runs.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.