Boyd on top of world after twirling near no-hitter

Boyd on top of world after twirling near no-hitter

DETROIT -- Matthew Boyd woke up Sunday morning after sleeping in the basement. He nearly ended the day on top of the baseball world.

It's not a rags-to-riches story so much as an arrangement he and his wife Ashley worked out after the birth of their daughter, Meira, in July. The night before he pitches, he gets a good night's sleep without having to wake up with the baby.

"We have a basement," he said, "so before start days, I sleep there."

10 no-hit bids turned heartbreakers

He figured it was a long night for the baby when their French bulldog, Gigi, jumped into the bed. He couldn't have imagined the day ahead for him.

Boyd was in the dugout for a couple of no-hit bids when Justin Verlander was chasing his third. Sunday was Boyd's turn on the mound for one, but for someone who had never experienced a complete game in the Majors before, let alone a no-hit bid, he was remarkably calm during the Tigers' 12-0 win against the White Sox in the series finale.

Boyd on his shutout

"It's definitely new for me," Boyd said.

After 29 runs allowed by Tigers pitching over the first three games of the series, and a 7.19 team ERA for September, all Boyd was looking for were strikes and outs. Slowly, as those outs kept coming, bunched together, he realized he had a chance at history.

Even after Boyd earned a rotation spot out of Spring Training with a dominant camp, few would've expected a no-hit bid from him. The 26-year-old lefty, part of the David Price trade with Toronto two years ago, didn't have a complete game on his resume, and he doesn't have the high-strikeout, low-damage arsenal to dominate a lineup with as many talented, albeit young, hitters as the White Sox.

But Boyd and catcher Bryan Holaday -- a September callup who worked with Boyd at Triple-A Toledo in July -- had a plan to change speeds.

"We were going hard-in with good fastballs," Holaday said, "and then we were going slow, down in the zone, away, changing speeds, changing location. He did a tremendous job of executing his pitches. We got them excited early with a lot of heaters in, and we were able to use offspeed off that."

White Sox manager Rick Renteria could see it unfolding.

"Hitting coaches are talking to the players about what this guy is doing in his attack," Renteria said. "You have to give him credit because he changed the variance in velocities on his changeup and was turning it over pretty well."

His pitch speeds went up and down like a heart monitor as he went away from back-to-back fastballs, picking his spots to show velocity. He threw first-pitch strikes to just 15 of his 28 batters, yet faced just five 2-0 counts.

He threw 121 pitches, yet just 51 were fastballs. He was throwing changeups, sliders, breaking balls, everything he had.

Ausmus on Boyd's one-hitter

"They started making adjustments," Boyd said, "and then [Holaday] did a great job of adjusting with that, early on using the curveball, and then starting to use the changeup, then throwing some big sliders in the middle of the game."

He wasn't missing bats so much as missing hits. Jose Abreu blistered a 388-foot drive that took JaCoby Jones to the warning track in right-center, a 104.5 mph exit velocity that had an 81 percent hit probability according to Statcast™. Matt Davidson blistered a line drive at 108.7 mph, but right at left fielder Mikie Mahtook for the first out of the fifth. Aside from that, the White Sox had fly balls and popups, struggling to center pitches.

"We tried. Everybody tried," said Avisail Garcia, robbed of an single in the hole by shortstop Dixon Machado in the second. "I think he was really good, and we have to give the credit to the pitcher."

As the outs piled up, the anticipation grew in the Tigers' dugout. Holaday tried to think about anything else but the zeros on the scoreboard. Teammates started to leave Boyd alone back in the dugout. Machado couldn't help but watch the board.

"I look up and it was like four innings, no hits, and then fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth," he said. "When he got to two outs in the ninth, I wanted him to do it so bad."

The rest of baseball had the same reaction as an otherwise meaningless September contest between two noncontenders took on meaning. Boyd, for his part, stayed more calm than his teammates, more calm than he was watching Verlander.

"Way more nerves watching his," Boyd said. "I remember the one against the Angels two years ago, I was on edge for the last five innings, I remember. Today, even when [Tim Anderson] hit the ball, I didn't think anything of it. I thought, 'Oh, I didn't execute.' It was just, 'Oh, OK, next pitch.'"

It was a 2-0 changeup to Anderson, and an opposite-field line drive that carried over right fielder Nicholas Castellanos, who was playing shallow to take away a bloop single.

"I was looking for something slow," Anderson said. "I figured he was going to throw me a changeup there because he had been doing it the whole game."

Instead of becoming the first Tiger with a no-hitter since Verlander blanked the Blue Jays in 2011, Boyd became the fourth Major Leaguer in the last three years to lose a no-hit bid with two outs in the ninth, and the first Tiger since Armando Galarraga's memorable perfect-game bid was spoiled by a disputed call at first base.

Boyd looked at the pitch, and he can live with it. But he won't sleep easy. His start now over, it's his turn to stay up with the baby.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.