The Tigers built an early lead and handled Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah pretty easily in the Jays home opener at the Rogers Centre. Still, once again they wasted scoring opportunities along the way and the bullpen eventually got stomped again as they fell to 2-8 on the young season.
Things started off in sprightly fashion as Manoah and Matt Manning traded very quick first innings, needing just 14 pitches between them. In the second, the Tigers took it to Manoah, easily ignoring his breaking ball and putting him on the ropes a bit.
Kerry Carpenter was in the cleanup spot and led off the top of the second with this drive shown below. Kevin Kiermaier is a master thief, unfortunately. That’s as spectacular a home run robbery as you’ll see.
However, the Tigers kept coming as Javier Báez followed with a walk, and Spencer Torkelson ripped a hot shot single to third that Matt Chapman couldn’t handle. That brought up Nick Maton, who turned on a sinker up in the zone and blasted it out to right for an early 3-0 lead. The shot was Maton’s first of the year.
Kevin Kiermaier is...— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) April 11, 2023
THE. OUTLAW. pic.twitter.com/l4jgOV8PVe
Nick Maton - Detroit Tigers (1) pic.twitter.com/7ujM0nHYTo— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) April 11, 2023
After Maton’s homer, Jonathan Schoop singled and Jake Rogers and Akil Baddoo followed with walks to load the bases. Riley Greene was frozen by a front door sinker for strike three, and Matt Vierling popped out, wasting a great opportunity. They’d pay for it eventually.
Matt Manning, knowing the Blue Jays are a great fastball hitting team, put his slider and curveball to work more than usual the first time through the order, but he made the cardinal mistake in the second after his teammates got him some runs to work with. He walked the leadoff hitter, Daulton Varsho, and the outfielder/catcher would eventually score on an Alejandro Kirk single before Manning shut the door on the inning.
The Tigers got two more walks from Carpenter and Maton in the third as Manoah continued to struggle mightily to locate anything. However, Torkelson and Schoop lifted routine fly balls. The LOBsters were piling up already.
Manning cruised through the third inning. His command of both breaking balls was pretty sharp. However, in the fourth he threw a fastball right down the pipe in a 1-1 count and a red hot Matt Chapman smoked it to right field for a solo shot to cut the lead to one run.
In the fifth? Another absolutely grooved fourseamer was deposited over the wall in right field by Kiermaier. The very next hitter, George Springer got a hanging slider and he lifted that out to left center field to put the Blue Jays ahead 4-3.
The Tigers never really mustered another threat from that point on. Manning spun a quick sixth inning, but the final batter, Kirk, drilled a grounder off Manning’s foot that deflected to Spencer Torkelson. Manning adjusted quickly and got to first in plenty of time to take the throw and wrap up the inning. The Blue Jays are dangerous, but Manning just threw a few lazy pitches and they got crushed, which is rare for a pitcher who rarely gives up the long ball, particularly off his fastball.
The real bad news came after the game, when it was revealed that Manning had made the play covering first with a fractured bone in his foot from Kirk’s comebacker. That’s probably going to be a June timetable for his return.
Mason Englert took over in the seventh and looked very good, carving up Cavan Biggio and Kevin Kiermaier with excellent changeups and good command. The Tigers got a two-out hustle double from Torkelson on a line drive in the left center field gap that Kiermaier cut off, but Nick Maton was frozen for strike three on a breaking ball.
That would prove the Tigers last real shot in this one, as Englert’s second inning of work was a disaster. He gave up home runs to Bichette and Kirk in the eighth and when the smoke cleared five runs had crossed and it was 9-3.
The Tigers went quietly in the ninth. Overall they got pretty poor games from Báez in particular, as well as Riley Greene. Baddoo also went 0-for-4 out of the leadoff spot, with one walk drawn.
LHP Eduardo Rodriguez will take on RHP Kevin Gausman on Wednesday at 7:07 p.m. ET.
Beau Brieske to begin throwing again this week
We’ve been waiting for word on the right-hander for two weeks now, after the Tigers put him on the injured list with right upper arm discomfort, which is suitably vague. On Tuesday, an actual diagnosis was announced and it’s one you don’t hear often; right ulnar nerve entrapment. Brieske underwent a hydrodissection procedure designed to relieve pressure on the nerve, which runs through the same channel as the UCL at the elbow. He’s been prescribed short rest, and is set to resume throwing work later this week.