Detroit — Matthew Boyd was very good in his return to the rotation Sunday. His counterpart, however, was better.
Neither the Tigers nor Mother Nature could throw All-Star right-hander Jose Berrios off his game Sunday and the Blue Jays left town with a 2-1 series-claiming victory at Comerica Park. The Tigers and Toronto split the season series, 3-3.
Berrios struck out 11 over his seven innings. He threw 97 pitches, 74 for strikes — and impressive 76% strike rate.
The Tigers didn’t threaten off the Blue Jays bullpen — Adam Cimber and Tim Mayza — in the eighth and ninth.
After Berrios cruised through the first four innings, allowing just three hits, the game was halted by pop-up rain shower in the middle of the fifth inning. Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoya was furious at the decision to pull the tarp and delay the game.
BOXSCORE: Blue Jays 2, Tigers 1
And to validate his beef, the rain lasted about five minutes, though the delay was 26 minutes. Berrios wasn’t much affected, though. He struck out three Tigers around a Victor Reyes double in the bottom of the fifth.
Reyes had two of the two of the six hits Berrios allowed.
The Tigers wasted their best chance to get to Berrios in the sixth. Jonathan Schoop reached on a error by third baseman Kevin Smith and Robbie Grossman followed with a double that glanced off first baseman Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.’s glove.
But the Tigers would only manage a run, that on a two-out single by Harold Castro. The inning stalled when Berrios, after fielding a grounder by Miguel Cabrera, caught Grossman too far off second base and threw him out.
Castro’s hit came after Jeimer Candelario struck out, chasing a pitch out of the zone.
The Tigers have scored just 20 runs over the last eight games, and they won four of them.
Tigers reliever Jose Cisnero had his own great escape after he loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the sixth. He got Teoscar Hernandez to fly to shallow right field and then the Castros turned an improbable double-play to end the inning.
Alejandro Kirk hit a ground ball to the shortstop side of second base with the Tigers shifted to that side. Willi Castro fielded the ball while shortstop Harold Castro hustled to the bag. Harold caught Willi’s throw with his bare hand, found the bag and made a jump throw to first base, which had to be scooped by Jonathan Schoop to get Kirk.
Boyd was rusty, as you would expect since he’d been out since June 14 with general arm soreness. He needed 71 pitches to get through the four innings, 27 of them in the first inning.
But the only damage a very dangerous, right-handed heavy Blue Jays lineup did against him were two solo home runs. Bo Bichette hit a high, two-seamer out to right field in the first inning and Kevin Smith hit a center-cut two-seamer out to left in the fourth for his first big-league homer.
The only other time Boyd was on the ropes was in the third. He locked horns with Hernandez with runners at the corners and one out. After throwing him three straight high fastballs, Boyd dropped a dirty change-up with the count full. Hernandez took it for called strike.
Huge pitch to keep it a one-run game at the time, especially with how Berrios was shutting down the Tigers hitters.
Boyd stuck out five and got 11 swings and misses.
The Tigers bullpen — Joe Jimenez, Jason Foley, Cisnero and Derek Holland — kept the Jays in check through the ninth.