Anaheim, Calif. — The Detroit Tigers got the performance they were hoping for from right-hander Matt Manning in his major-league debut on Thursday night.
They just didn’t receive a similar showing from the rest of the team.
Detroit gave up a grand slam in the seventh inning after some shaky defense earlier in the inning, allowing the Los Angeles Angels to distance themselves in the 7-5 win in the opener of the four-game series at Angel Stadium.
The Tigers (29-40) were coming off a three-game sweep at the Kansas City Royals.
Manning, the ninth-overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, allowed two runs and four hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked two before leaving with the Tigers trailing 2-1.
Manning pitched well enough to earn another start Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals.
“It was definitely fun. A lot of emotions,” Manning said. “It was just good enough to where I felt good about it, but there’s some things I need to clean up before the next one, and I’m going to go to work over these next couple days to get it right.”
Shaky defense also contributed to both runs charged to Manning.
Tigers center fielder Daz Cameron was caught flat-footed on a single to center by Kean Wong with one out in the second inning, allowing Wong beat his throw to second.
“It’s a mental error,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “Obviously, that play’s not going to be a double in that at-bat.”
That derailed a potential double play when Juan Lagares grounded out to third for the second out.
Luis Rengifo then grounded a single to left to score Wong for a 1-0 lead. The throw from Baddoo in left got past catcher Eric Haase, allowing Rengifo to continue to third.
David Fletcher then drove in Rengifo with another ground-ball single to make it 2-0.
“We should have played a little bit better defense behind him, but to be able to leave the game after five innings on a high note, I wanted to let him know I was proud of him,” Hinch said.
Detroit’s defense took another step back in the seventh inning.
Niko Goodrum dropped a throw at second that would have been a force out. He then fielded a grounder, but his throw pulled Miguel Cabrera off the bag at first, loading the bases with no outs.
Jose Iglesias followed with a pinch-hit RBI single and Taylor Ward then went deep for a grand slam and 7-1 lead.
The Tigers had several opportunities to score while Manning was in the game.
They couldn’t capitalize on a lead-off walk to Robbie Grossman and a one-out single by Jeimer Candelario in the first inning. Angels starter Shohei Ohtani bounced back to strike out Cabrera and got Harold Castro to fly out to right.
Akil Baddoo hit a line drive down the right-field line that rolled to the wall with one out in the second inning, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.
Candelario reached on a bunt single to lead off the fourth and Cabrera was then hit by a pitch, but Castro lined out to left and Haase hit into a double play.
Detroit put its leadoff batter on again in the fifth when Baddoo singled to left, but one out later the Angels turned another inning-ending double play.
The Tigers finally scored when Jonathan Schoop hit a solo homer in the sixth to cut the lead to 2-1.
Goodrum pinch-hit for Castro to lead off the seventh and doubled off the wall off reliever Tony Watson, who had failed to get an out while facing six hitters the day before in an 8-4 loss at the Oakland Athletics.
Haase was unable to advance the runner and grounded out to shortstop. Goodrum stole third with one out, but was caught in a rundown between third and home when Baddoo hit a comebacker to Watson and the Tigers came up empty again.
“Definitely a contact play,” Hinch said of Baddoo’s comebacker. “If that ball is hit a couple feet either way, it’s going to roll through the middle of the infield.”
The Tigers got their first hit with a running in scoring position in their eighth try, when Grossman drove in Cameron with a single in the eighth to make it 7-2.
Angels reliever Mike Mayers couldn’t record an out against the first four hitters in the eighth, forcing them to bring in closer Raisel Iglesias with a 7-2 lead.
After Cabrera struck out looking, Goodrum dropped an RBI single into right and the Tigers scored another run on a ground out to make it 7-4.
The Tigers added another run in the ninth on a wild pitch and had the tying run at the plate for the second straight inning, but couldn’t come through with another timely hit.
“We made their closer come in and throw two innings, kind of an old-school save,” Hinch said. “See how that impacts the rest of the weekend.”
Dan Arritt is a freelance writer.