Matthew Boyd, one of the nicest guys in the Detroit Tigers clubhouse, was given two opportunities to critique Brandon Dixon’s pitching in Thursday’s 17-3 loss to the Oakland A’s.
Both times, Boyd grinned and gave a politically correct response.
“He got the job done, right,” Boyd, the ace of the Tigers’ staff, said before Friday night’s rematch against the A’s at Comerica Park. “He got three outs. That’s all that matters.”
Dixon, a utility player, made two appearances as a pitcher last year with Cincinnati. In the ninth inning Thursday, he hit a batter and allowed a two-run homer to Oakland’s Mark Canha. He did strike out Marcus Semien with a 75 mph fastball.
“I try to throw really soft and make the ball move a little bit,” Dixon said Friday. “There’s not really signs (with catcher Grayson Greiner). Whatever I’m throwing, it’s soft enough for him to catch it.
“I’m trying to throw below the hitting speed — trying to throw 65 to 75. It makes it a little harder to hit. That’s my goal.”
With the Tigers down 15-0 entering the ninth inning, Dixon was told by coaches to “get loose.” With the bullpen taxed, manager Ron Gardenhire turned to Dixon to close it out.
“He picked us up in a big spot,” Boyd said. “We really needed help. That’s what the team does. He saved an inning for the bullpen. He picked us up big-time.”
With most of the fans gone by the ninth inning Thursday — and both teams eager to get off the field — Dixon worked a fairly quick frame. The A’s Matt Olson lined out and Stephen Piscotty grounded out.
“I was trying to work quick, throw strikes and get a few outs,” Dixon said. “You want to make sure you’re throwing strikes. I’m there out of necessity to help the team.”
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Boyd pointed to Dixon’s prior contributions this season — including a three-run walk-off home run to beat the Royals on May 5 — and believes Dixon is making a name for himself.
“He wants to win,” Boyd said. “He’s been there, come up with big hits. He’s always ready.”
Dixon, not in Friday’s starting lineup, hopes to establish himself as a player the organization can trust moving forward in its rebuild. He entered Friday with a .298 batting average, 11 RBIs and three home runs.
Even though the Tigers entered Friday on a four-game losing streak — they have been outscored 41-9 by the Astros and A’s — Dixon is trying to keep a positive outlook.
“There are times things just aren’t clicking,” he said. “But at any point, it can turn around. What you did yesterday doesn’t really have an impact on what happens today. I don’t think the mood (in the clubhouse) is down at all.”
Tigers first baseman and lead-off hitter Niko Goodrum was scratched about an hour before Friday’s game with flu-like symptoms. He was replaced in the batting order by Gordon Beckham and Ronny Rodriguez moved to first base.
Published at Sat, 18 May 2019 00:19:10 +0000