Maybe that's why Boyd was able to keep the ball down so well Monday, inducing seven ground-ball outs and seven strikeouts over six scoreless innings. Or maybe it was the mix of pitches that befuddled a group of Minnesota hitters that hadn't seen him since last September.
Whatever the reason, a pitcher with one of the highest fly-ball ratios in the Majors last year looked more like a ground-ball pitcher Monday.
"I think the slider is the biggest difference there," manager Brad Ausmus said. "I think the slider's a good addition. I think he's probably going to be a pitcher that can pitch up and down as much as he can side to side."
That's the kind of pitcher the Tigers want Boyd to be, changing hitters' eye level. That's the kind of pitcher he might need to be in his next start. If Boyd stays on turn, he would face the White Sox next weekend in Chicago, where the ball tends to carry at U.S. Cellular Field in summer weather. An excessive heat watch is already set for Thursday and Friday, with high temperatures staying in the 90s through Saturday.
"Shouldn't matter if it's here. Shouldn't matter if it's at [U.S. Celluar Field]. Shouldn't matter if it's at Yellowstone," Boyd said. "You go pitch. You just go get the job done."
Boyd did that on Monday with arguably the best start of his brief Major League career. It wasn't just his slider, Boyd said, but a nasty changeup as part of a four-pitch mix.
"It's a combination of how you get outs," Boyd said, "and it's also the hitter. Today we were just down with the two-seamer, down with the slider, down with the change and down with the curve. Everything got a ground-ball out there. It's just the way it happened today."
Boyd's groundouts included a fourth-inning double play from Brian Dozier after Miguel Sano's single accounted for his lone leadoff baserunner. After Max Kepler's double gave the Twins what turned out to be their only runner in scoring position, Boyd induced another clutch groundout from Eddie Rosario to Miguel Cabrera.
The only outs recorded by outfielders were a Byron Buxton flyout to right in the third inning and a Kurt Suzuki liner to Justin Upton in the fifth. The only other ball caught in the air was Joe Mauer's comebacker that Boyd snared to lead off the sixth.
Maybe out of pity, Boyd then involved his outfield on that one by trying to throw the ball around the horn. He missed third baseman Nick Castellanos, sending the ball into left.
"He wanted me to get in on the fun," joked Upton, whose second-inning homer backed Boyd.