Cincinnati — What the heck was Matthew Boyd doing swinging the bat Saturday night?
Yes, he delivered a solid opposite-field base hit in the fourth inning, his third career hit, but given what happened in Milwaukee earlier in the year, the Tigers were hoping he kept the bat on his shoulders.
“I think he just reacted,” manager AJ Hinch said Sunday morning.
Swinging the bat, both in preparation for his start in Milwaukee and in his three plate appearances on June 1 (he flew out, laid down a sacrifice bunt and walked), played a part in his left arm pain that put him on the injured list for more than two months.
But there he was Saturday, taking his hacks.
“It’s a fine line,” Hinch said. “We didn’t want to give away every single out and he took to two strikes. Ironically, we haven’t had a pitcher come up in a bunt situation yet. But I think it’s just reactionary for these guys.
“To be honest, Thursday (the end of interleague play) can’t get here soon enough.”
Boyd came out of it OK, health-wise, and the slap single to left might be his last plate appearance ever if Major League Baseball adopts the universal designated-hitter rule from 2022.
“I went up there knowing I wasn’t going to swing hard, just throw my hands at the ball,” Boyd said. “After I swung and missed at the change-up, 0-2, in the first at-bat, I wasn’t going to swing (in the second at-bat). But he threw it again and I got lucky.
“If that’s it, and I end with three big-league hits, then I guess that’s a good way to finish up my hitting career.”
It’s easy to forget Eric Haase didn’t play a game in the big leagues this season until May 13. He’s produced 20 home runs, 53 RBIs and 114 OPS-plus in less than half a season, 78 games.
Impressive. One home run every 15 plate appearances.
“I think we have to remind ourselves that this is about half the at-bats of a normal player at this point,” Hinch said. “He’s producing at a high clip.”
His home run Saturday off Tyler Mahle was just his second since July 31 and his first since coming off the injured list with back stiffness. He did hit a couple of homers on his rehab stint in Toledo.
“Kind of glad to just get it out of the way and get that monkey off my back a little bit,” Haase said with a smile after the game. “It’d been a while since I homered. Just a string of bad luck with the stint on the IL and wasting some homers in Toledo.
“But I’ve been having better at-bats lately, hitting a lot more balls hard and kind of finding my rhythm again. Just putting good swings on balls is a good sign.”
Not to be overlooked, too, Haase played in left field Saturday night for the first time since Aug. 12 and had no issues.
“I love the fact that he’s been able keep performing with expectations starting to rise,” Hinch said. “He’s there in the moment and continues to have success. He continues to get better. I love the resiliency, love the work ethic.”
Around the horn
Hinch announced that right-hander Julio Teheran (right shoulder strain) was officially shut down for the season. He’d been in Lakeland trying to beat the odds and make it back for at least one or two starts, but the arm hasn’t responded. Hinch said Teheran, who signed a one-year $3 million deal with Detroit and made just one start, is seeking multiple medical opinions on his next course of action.
…With Haase hitting his 20th homer, the Tigers have multiple players with 20 or more home runs since 2017 when Justin Upton, Nick Castellanos and Ian Kinsler did it. Robbie Grossman has 21 homers this season.
… Drew Carlton’s one-pitch, one-out big-league debut was unique. According to Elias Sports Bureau, no Tigers pitcher had done that going back to 2000. The last pitcher to do that was San Diego’s Buddy Baumann on July 16, 2016.
On deck: Pirates
► Series: Three games at PNC Park, Pittsburgh
► First pitch: Monday — 1:35 p.m.; Tuesday-Wednesday — 6:35 p.m.
► TV/radio: All three games on BSD/97.1 FM
► Probables: Monday — LHP Tarik Skubal (8-12, 4.26) vs. RHP Bryse Wilson (2-6, 4.61); Tuesday — RHP Wily Peralta (3-3, 3.68) vs. TBA; Wednesday — RHP Matt Manning (3-6, 6.29) vs. RHP Mitch Keller (4-10, 6.23).
► Skubal, Tigers: He’s coming off a rocky start against the Athletics, victimized by two home runs and two three-run innings. Expect him to come out throwing bullets. He’s back in the load-management program for the rest of the season. He’s not expected to go more than three innings.
► Wilson, Pirates: He’s making his 12th start of the season, and sixth with the Pirates. He features 93-mph four-seam and two-seam fastballs, with a change-up and curveball. He’s a strike-thrower, just a 5% walk rate and he doesn’t get a lot of swing-and-miss. Lives off weak contact.