Tigers deck Cards 4-3 on wild pitch after Ozuna's tying HR
DETROIT (AP) — Fifty years ago, a Detroit Tigers lefty dominated the St. Louis Cardinals on the way to a World Series victory.
Matthew Boyd took his turn Saturday night, albeit in a less important game, as the Tigers beat the Cardinals 4-3.
On the day the Tigers celebrated their 1968 championship — aided by Mickey Lolich defeating the Cardinals three times in the World Series — Boyd pitched one of the best games of his career.
He struck out a career-high 11 and allowed only one hit in the first seven innings. His night ended after a homer and a walk to start the eighth, but Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire was still impressed.
"He pitched his tail off," Gardenhire said. "That's a team in a pennant race, and he might have had his best outing of the season. I just wish he could have gone all nine."
Boyd was willing — he lobbied Gardenhire to stay in — but he didn't want to be compared to Lolich, who threw three complete games to earn MVP honors in the '68 Series.
"You can't even mention me in the same breath as Mickey Lolich," Boyd said. "Everyone that's around this team knows what he did for this franchise and this city. It was incredible just to see him in the clubhouse today."
In the end, Boyd didn't even get the win. The Tigers led 3-1 with two outs in the top of the ninth, but Marcell Ozuna hit a two-run homer off Shane Greene (4-6) to tie the game. It was Ozuna's 21st homer and third in two days.
It was the second day in a row the teams went into the bottom of the ninth tied at 3. Victor Reyes scored the winning run Friday to prevent extra innings, and then did the same thing Saturday.
Reyes led off and reached second on first baseman Matt Carpenter's fielding error. Bud Norris (3-5) walked Jeimer Candelario, and both runners moved up on Jim Adduci's sacrifice bunt.
The Cardinals intentionally walked Nicholas Castellanos to load the bases for Victor Martinez with one out, but Norris bounced the next pitch and Reyes scored easily.
"That's a tough one to swallow," Norris said. "We've been fighting all year, and we won't give in, but that was tough."
The Cardinals, who entered with a one-game lead for the second National League wild card, have lost five of seven. The Tigers have won four straight.
"Ozuna gets us a big, two-out, two-run homer to tie the game and give us the momentum, and then we get walked off," St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said.
Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty yielded three runs on four hits and four walks in five innings. He struck out six.
After Boyd struck out the side in the first, the Tigers scored twice in the bottom of the inning. Two walks and a single loaded the bases with none out, and Candelario scored on a wild pitch. Victor Martinez made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly, but Flaherty struck out the next two batters.
Boyd fanned nine in the first four innings, and the Tigers gave him another run in the fourth. With two outs and a full count, Reyes broke from first and was able to score on Candelario's bloop single to center.
Harrison Bader nearly got the Cardinals on the board in the fifth, but Mikie Mahtook made a running leap into the left-field fence to rob him of a home run. Bader is usually on the other end of such plays — according to MLB Statcast, he leads the majors with seven 5-star catches.
"I knew I was in trouble as soon as I released the pitch," Boyd said. "I can't even tell you how good it felt to look back and see a guy making a freakish athletic play like that."
Paul DeJong led off the eighth with his 17th homer, cutting Detroit's lead to 3-1.
Cardinals: RHP Michael Wacha was scratched from Friday night's Triple-A rehab start with soreness in his left oblique.
BIG NIGHT FOR BOYD
Boyd's 11 strikeouts were the most by a Tigers pitcher in any game against the Cardinals, including their three World Series matchups. Lolich, who received a standing ovation during the pregame festivities, had nine in Game 2 in 1968, and David Price matched that mark in a 2015 interleague game.
GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
The teams wore throwback jerseys as part of Detroit's celebration of its 1968 World Series victory over St. Louis, but they had to fudge things a bit. The Tigers haven't changed the design of their home jersey in the last 50 years, so they wore replicas of their 1968 road jerseys — a plain black "Detroit" on a gray uniform.
The teams finish their three-game series Sunday afternoon, with Detroit RHP Michael Fulmer (3-10, 4.57) facing John Gant (6-5, 3.10).