This one saw the return of Matt Manning to the rotation after over three months on the injured list. His velocity was down and he struggled to locate both the fastball and slider consistently, but he kept the ball on the ground and didn’t allow the Twins to get much going. The whiffs are still painfully lacking, but we’ll cut him some slack for a few starts as he gets up to speed.
As for the Twins, Chris Archer got the start and was generally effective. Javier Báez doubled with one out in the first, but Archer escaped with no damage. The Tigers drew a walk in each of the next two innings but couldn’t do anything with those baserunners.
The Twins broke through first when Manning hung a changeup right down the middle to rookie Mark Contreras. The Twins’ right fielder didn’t miss, bashing a long fly ball to right for the first home run of his career. A Luiz Arraez single and a four pitch walk to Carlos Correa followed. Manning dialed up a couple of good sliders to punch out Jorge Polanco, the right-hander’s only strikeout on the outing. However Jeimer Candelario fielded a ground ball at third and tried to beat Arraez to the bag and failed. A sacrifice fly from Nick Gordon brought him home, instead of being the final out of the inning. Gio Urshela lined out to left as Manning escaped without further incident.
The Tigers finally fought back in the fifth. Willi Castro drew a one out walk and scored from first on a Jonathan Schoop double into the left field corner. Akil Baddoo popped out, but Riley Greene pulled a double to right to score Schoop, and we were all tied up.
Another poor decision from his infielders cost Manning another run in the bottom half of the inning as the Twins recaptured the lead. Manning walked Correa again to start the inning, and Jorge Polanco singled through the right side to move the Twins shortstop to third. Miranda followed with a ground ball up the middle almost onto the outfield grass to Schoop. The Tigers’ second baseman flipped to Báez for the out at second, but with Correa dancing off of third, Schoop yelled at Báez to go to third, where Correa dove back just ahead of the tag. Had they simply taken the double play, the inning would’ve ended on a Nick Gordon fly out. Instead, Correa tagged and scored, though Eric Haase was able to scoop the throw in from Willi Castro in right field and gun down Miranda trying to advance to second.
Manning’s day ended after five innings and 78 pitches thrown. He seemed to be dialing in his command in the late innings and was pitching with a little more confidence as his day came to an end. 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 4 BB, 1 SO, is a pretty ugly line, but after over 100 days on the injured list, we’ll take it for now.
From that point on, Jason Foley, Andrew Chafin, Joe Jiménez, and Gregory Soto each tossed a scoreless frame to lock the Twins in place. Noticed was served that the bullpen isn’t going to come undone without Fulmer, although this bit of the broadcast made us sad.
The offense got to work on the comeback in the seventh against reliever Griffin Jax. Eric Haase led off with an infield single and after Willi Castro struck out, Schoop drew a walk. Akil Baddoo followed with a seeing eye ground ball through the right side to score Haase from second, and once again it was Riley Greene coming through clutch as well, ripping a shot off of Correa’s glove into left as Schoop rumbled home with the go-ahead run.
The Twins turned to Trevor Megill at that point, but he immediately left a breaking ball up on his first pitch to Báez, and it was lined into left center field for an RBI single scoring Baddoo. The Tigers had a two run lead, and Jiménez was able to pitch around a one-out single from Gordon. Gregory Soto came on and looked pretty sharp, getting three quick outs to lock down his 20th save on the year.
Wednesday afternoon’s rubber match will feature Tyler Alexander vs. Joe Ryan for the Twins at 1:10 p.m. EDT.
RIP Vin Scully
We lost a legend in the world of sports over the weekend as Bill Russell passed away. There was more sad news on Tuesday evening as the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Vin Scully, passed away at age 94. One of the greatest sports broadcasters of all-time, Scully was the voice of the Dodgers from 1950 until his retirement in 2016. We will miss his stories, his wit, his humanity, and just the simple pleasure of his familiar voice and style calling baseball games.