Matt Manning’s command wasn’t as good as last time out, and the Sox nickel-and-dimed him to death while the Tigers’ offense couldn’t build on an early break as they lost 6-4 on Friday night.
The Tigers had a chance to get out to a quick start. With one out, Victor Reyes and Javier Báez each singled. Harold Castro drilled a line drive the opposite way, but it was snared by Yoan Moncada who fired across the diamond to catch Báez off first base. Just like that an early threat was snuffed.
As for Matt Manning, he came out in the bottom half and allowed a pair of quick singles, but rebounded to freeze Eloy Jimenez for strike three to collect one out and give himself a chance to escape any trouble. It didn’t quite happen. Jose Abreu flipped a curveball to left for a sacrifice fly to score AJ Pollock from third. Yasmani Grandal then lined out to left to end the inning.
In the second, the Tigers did put together a rally. With two outs, Kerry Carpenter drew a walk to reach base for the first time in his major league career. Jonathan Schoop followed with a single, and Akil Baddoo reached on an infield single. That loaded the bases with two outs for Riley Greene, and he took a Giolito changeup and drove it to left field. Eloy Jimenez didn’t read it well and basically watched it clang off the wall next to him for a bases clearing double. 3-1 Tigers.
In the bottom half, Manning’s velocity started showing up but the pitch selection wasn’t ideal. He blew Andrew Vaughn away with four straight fourseamers from 94 up to 96 mph for starters. Gavin Sheets saw nothing but 96-97 mph, but took an 0-2 fastball away and poked it down the third base line for a double. A poor choice to give a weak hitter like Leury Garcia a 1-1 changeup at the top of the zone led to a line drive single to center, and Sheets scored to make it 3-2. Josh Harrison then flared a weak single to right field and Garcia read it well, racing first to third.
AJ Pollock followed with a fly ball to right. Victor Reyes caught it in good position to throw home, but Eric Haase couldn’t handle the hop on a fairly weak throw, and Garcia scored. Manning popped up Moncada, and through two innings we were tied at 3-3. You don’t have to hit the ball hard to score some nights.
In the third, Harold Castro reached out for a pitch six inches off the plate and dumped a single to the left with one out. Eric Haase then followed with a scorching hot double off a hanging Giolito slider to the wall in center field. Castro raced around from first to score. 4-3 Tigers. Candelario grounded out, and that left it up to Carpenter to make his first MLB hit an RBI as well. Unfortunately he grounded out to third to end the threat, and the Tigers really didn’t make solid contact the whole rest of the game.
Manning again allowed a couple singles in the bottom of the inning, but got Sheets to ground out to end the threat. Every inning was a battle as fought his command of all three primary pitches moving in and out of the stretch. Meanwhile Eric Haase kept getting cute, calling for secondary pitches when ahead as he Sox just kept waiting for offspeed pitches to serve for singles over and over.
The Tigers went quickly in the fourth, and the Sox again got the leadoff hitter on with a little single from Leury Garcia. Manning got Josh Harrison to fly out to left, and popped up Pollock, but he command wavered again as Manning issued his first walk, to Moncada. Eloy Jimenez whiffed on a first pitch slider, and Haase called for another one in the same spot. This one went for a line drive single to center to score Garcia and tie the game. Manning struck out Abreu, mixing in a rare good changeup down for a whiff along the way.
The Tigers went 1-2-3 again in the fifth, and Manning was able to pitch around a one-out single from Vaughn, striking out Sheets and Garcia back-to-back, finally recognizing he could just blow these two weak hitters away with little more than a pure dose of high octane fastballs.
Giolito had really locked in after the early innings, and tossed his third straight 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth. Manning’s day ended with 86 pitches thrown, and five strikeouts, but with four runs coming on nine singles and a double. Pretty frustrating day as everything the Sox put in play seemed to go for a soft single. Still, the fact that Manning is finally back making starts and had no issues sitting 95+ most of the game was encouraging. The good slider command he showed against the Rays the last time out was not in evidence, however.
So it was bullpen time, and AJ Hinch went to Will Vest in the bottom of the sixth. He popped up Harrison for the first out, then got Pollock on a ground ball to first. A slider and a pair of well located 97 mph fastballs struck out Moncada, and we were on to the seventh still tied up at 4-4.
The Tigers got a one-out single from Baddoo in the seventh, but Riley Greene grounded back to Giolito, who completed his night by starting a 1-6-3 double play.
Joe Jiménez took over in the seventh. He got Eloy Jimenez on a ground ball, but Abreu followed with a ball deep in the hole that Báez had to make a sliding stop on, and he couldn’t get Abreu at first. Yasmani Grandal took a fastball at the top of the zone and hit a deep fly ball to Greene in center. Abreu tagged and took second just ahead of the throw. The Tigers challenged as Abreu had come off the bag, but Báez hadn’t held the tag on him when he did according to the review. The challenge was rebuffed, and AJ Hinch was tossed for arguing about it, with bench coach George Lombard taking over. Vaughn slapped a grounder back through the box to score Abreu for second as the go-ahead run.
With Gavin Sheets up, Lombard turned to Andrew Chafin. He punched out Sheets, and we were on to the eighth.
The Sox turned to Reynaldo Lopez, and he had little trouble with the Tigers. Harold Castro singled to right with two outs, but Eric Haase went down on three pitches.
Andrew Chafin allowed a solo shot, his first in months, to AJ Pollock to make it 6-4. Moncada followed with a single and Lombard turned to Jose Cisnero, who got Eloy Jimenez to ground out to end the inning.
In the ninth, we did get one moment of joy from the offense when Kerry Carpenter slapped a broken bat single into right field for his first major league hit. Baddoo drew a walk in a tense AB against Liam Hendriks, but the Sox closer put down Riley Greene on three pitches to close this one out.
The offense did manage to score some runs early, but without that blunder from Jimenez in left field this would have been ugly. The Tigers once again racked up double digit strikeouts, walking just twice.