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Royals 3, Tigers 2: Royals break tie late, Tigers can’t respond

Matt Manning wasn’t at his best, but it was the bullpen and repeated failures at the plate that blew it in the end.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Manning wasn’t at his best on a drizzly Sunday afternoon in the Motor City, but it was Gregory Soto’s late-game mistakes that cost the Detroit Tigers the game and series against the Kansas City Royals. The Tigers fell, 3-2, after keeping things tied for most of the afternoon.

Manning had a long first inning, despite allowing just one baserunner. Tucker Barnhart and Javier Báez connected to catch Bobby Witt Jr. stealing, but Nick Pratto’s nine-pitch at-bat still dragged Manning past the 20-pitch mark. The Tigers stranded Báez in the bottom half of the inning after a two-out infield single.

Michael Taylor hit a leadoff double to start the second, but Manning worked his way out of the inning with a pair of fly balls and a strikeout — Haase struck out on three pitches, Jeimer Candelario grounded out in a decent at-bat and Ryan Kreidler K’d as well.

The Royals worked a two-out rally in the third for the first real threat of the game from either club. Witt laced a line drive into left to get things going and Jeimer Candelario extended the inning with a throwing error that put men on the corners. Manning struck out Pratto to get out of it, though.

Kansas City’s starter, Max Castillo, also ran into trouble in the third and got out of it, but the Tigers might have helped him out by not challenging a close play at second. Akil Baddoo seemed sure that he had evaded the tag sliding into the base, but Hinch opted not to challenge the play after talking to the replay team. Riley Greene extended his hit streak to 13-games immediately after that, but the ball probably wasn’t deep enough to score Baddoo even if they did overturn the call at second.

The wheels came off for Manning in the fourth. He finished out the inning but still gave up two runs on two hits, two walks and a hit batter. He couldn’t command much and even walked in a run, but Manning kept the score within reason, which is more than he did against the Seattle Mariners in his last outing.

Báez immediately responded with his second hit of the day to lead off the bottom half of the frame. As Gibby and Shep discussed whether Báez should steal or stay put at first, Harold Castro launched a ball into the right field stands for home run No. 6 of the year. Tie ball game.

Castillo locked back in and quickly struck out Haase for the second time. Candelario got frozen on a four-seamer that caught the top of the zone for strike three, and Kreidler couldn’t win an eight-pitch battle that ended in a fly out to center field.

Will Vest took over for Manning and pitched the first 1-2-3 inning of the day for the Tigers. Manning has been decent since returning to the rotation, but today wasn’t his day. From the long first inning to walking in a run, he just didn’t seem to have it. It wasn’t as bad as his last outing against Seattle when he gave up seven earned runs in 2 13 innings, but Manning needs to figure out what’s wrong quickly.

The Tigers knocked out Castillo before he could get out of the fifth inning. Detroit didn’t really threaten, but his pitch count was climbing and Collin Snider was ready to come in. He needed just one pitch to retire Victor Reyes, but it took a web gem from Witt to get it done. The ball ricocheted off Snider’s foot into the air, and Witt caught it barehanded and then rocketed it over to first in time.

Vest returned to the mound for Detroit in the sixth and got two quick outs before Nicky Lopez reached on a single. Alex Lange came in to close out the inning and struck out MJ Melendez to render Lopez’s steal of second moot.

Jose Cuas replaced Snider on the bump for Kansas City to start the bottom of the sixth. Haase took an ugly first hack and appeared destined for a third strikeout, but he turned on that very same pitch and drove it to left field for a double. Cuas intentionally walked Candelario to get to Kreidler, who struck out to end the threat.

The seventh inning got scary for Detroit. Joe Jimenez replaced Lange and struggled after getting the first two outs on five pitches. He walked Pratto and gave up the third hit of the day to Taylor, which was enough for Hinch to pull him from the game. Andrew Chafin came in to face lefty Michael Massey, but he brought it inside and plunked him to load the bases. Fortunately, Chafin recovered and got Hunter Dozier to fly out to center. Royals fans were less than pleased...

There was potential for another entry in the ongoing saga between Báez and Royals’ reliever Amir Garrett in the bottom of the seventh, but the Mike Matheny pulled Garrett before he could get the chance. Miggy might be hurt, but he looked ready to throw hands for Javy if things went south.

Garrett left a pair of baserunners on for Dylan Coleman, who stuck the tried-and-true method of throwing sliders to Báez and watching him whiff. It’s painfully predictable, and Báez can’t figure it out. Willi Castro entered the game as a pinch hitter for Baddoo and stayed in as the right fielder. Reyes shifted over to left to take over for Baddoo.

Gregory Soto took over for Detroit in the eighth and, somewhat predictably, gave up the lead. He gave up a double to Melendez that should have scored Nicky Lopez, but Reyes and Báez made a great relay play to get Lopez at home.

Soto would not be denied, though, and he promptly gave up a double to Witt on a ground ball right under Candelario’s glove, blowing the lead. He struck out Pratto after intentionally walking Salvador Perez, but the damage was done. Detroit now trailed, 3-2. Harold Castro led off the bottom of the eighth with a single, his second hit of the day, but Eric Haase grounded into a double play three pitches later. Candelario struck out for the second time, sending things to the ninth.

Jason Foley came out to pitch a 1-2-3 ninth for Detroit, but Riley Greene had to make another unbelievable catch to keep it intact. He slammed into the wall as he came down from a leaping catch in the deepest part of the ballpark, but he looked okay as he jogged back to the dugout.

Kreidler tried to start a rally in the ninth, but Pratto laid out to stop a hard-hit ground ball from leaving the infield and tossed it to Scott Barlow, who came in to close things out. Barnhart struck out on a ball in the dirt for Detroit’s 10th K of the day and Willi Castro flied out to right, ending the ball game.

After dropping five of the last six games in Detroit, the Tigers will head to Los Angeles for a three-game series against the Angels that starts tomorrow. Shohei Ohtani isn’t expected to pitch during the series.

Following Sunday’s contest, the Tigers announced that veteran right-hander Michael Pineda has been DFA’d. Minor league reliever Luis Castillo will be called up to join the bullpen.