Detroit — The Tigers went into Wednesday’s game against the Cleveland Indians with Ryan Carpenter, just called up from Triple-A Toledo, making a spot start and an overworked bullpen that was down to maybe four available arms.
Fortunately, one of those arms was fresh. Right-hander Artie Lewicki, who had been starting at Toledo, was also called up before the game and ended up being a savior.
“He threw the ball amazing,” said catcher Grayson Greiner, who has caught Lewicki at the Double-A and Triple-A levels. “He was huge. Our bullpen has been doing great but we’ve had to go to it a bunch, especially playing three games in, like, 24 hours (Saturday and Sunday).
“He saved us today.”
Lewicki threw four scoreless innings in the Tigers’ 6-0 loss to the Indians. He allowed three hits and a walk with four strikeouts.
“I just wanted to come up here and eat some innings and give the bullpen a rest,” Lewicki said. “They’re a little thin right now. Just come up, eat some innings and hopefully throw some zeros.”
Lewicki, 26, was the Tigers’ eighth-round pick out of Virginia in 2014. He made his debut last September and gave up eight runs in 10 1/3 innings. He was tagged for four hits and two runs in a brief relief appearance this season.
So, his performance Wednesday was somewhat of a pleasant surprise for the Tigers. Of his 72 pitches, 48 were four-seam fastballs, which he was throwing at an average speed of 93 mph, topping out at 95. Last season, except for one relief appearance, his fastball clocked at 90-92.
“That’s about where he usually is,” Greiner said. “When I caught him earlier in the season it was 30-degrees outside so the velocity wasn’t as high as normal. Last year, toward the end of the year in Erie and Toledo, this is about where he was — but he might’ve had more adrenaline today.”
Lewicki said it was more about his mechanics.
“Historically, I get off to slow starts in April,” he said. “But once the season gets going, my mechanics get more in sync, more in rhythm, so the ball comes out better. I’m not sure what my velocity was in my last few starts, but when it’s coming out well, this is where it’s at.”
It appeared Lewicki was going to stay with the Tigers on the trip to Seattle and Minnesota.
“It’s not up to me, but I’d like to think so,” Lewicki said when asked if he felt he earned a longer stay. “But whether I’m up here or down in Toledo, I’m just going to keep working and try to get better.”
Matthew Boyd is trying to keep his start Thursday in perspective. He wants to approach it as calmly, methodically and unemotionally as he has his other seven starts.
But that might be impossible. Boyd, a Seattle-area native, will make his first professional start at Safeco Field.
“I’m very grateful to have this opportunity,” he said. “It’s a full-circle kind of thing. To pitch in the park where I went to see games with my father and my friends growing up, the place I played games in high school and college.
“But, once it starts, just same as any other game.”
Good luck with that. Boyd said he expects to have an army of family and friends in the stands.
“It’s the same as Opening Day, spring training or the World Series — my goal, my approach doesn’t change,” he said. “Just attack.”
Boyd has pitched one scoreless inning for the Tigers at Safeco. It was Aug. 9, 2016, and it was the 14th inning of a game the Tigers would lose in the 15th.
“I had about 20 minutes notice,” Boyd said. “Just go pitch. Didn’t have a chance to think about anything.”
With JaCoby Jones bruising his left hip on Wednesday, the Tigers will be extremely happy if center fielder Leonys Martin (hamstring) can come off the disabled list on Friday or Saturday.
But manager Ron Gardenhire said the club is being cautious.
“He’s trending toward trying to come off (on Friday),” he said. “But listening to the trainers, we need to be extremely careful here because of his history with that leg. We’re hoping he can be back somewhere in the Seattle series, but it might not be the first game.”
Martin ran sprints in the outfield before Wednesday’s game and he’s been taking batting practice all week.
Gardenhire said all the injured players will be making the trip.