The Detroit Tigers applied pressure to Milwaukee Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff in the fifth inning, beginning with Harold Castro’s leadoff single. On the next pitch, Willi Castro dropped a surprising bunt and legged out a single.
A shocked Kolten Wong — playing second for the Brewers — rushed his attempt to eliminate Willi Castro and was charged with a throwing error. His mistake put runners on the corners for Dustin Garneau, who executed a sacrifice fly to left field for a 2-1 lead.
The Tigers didn’t look back, surging to a 4-1 victory the National League Central-leading Brewers in Wednesday’s series finale at Comerica Park. The Tigers (70-76) swept the series against MLB’s fourth-best team, improving to 61-52 since May 8 and 30-25 since the All-Star break.
Detroit has won five of its past six games.
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Taking the lead gave the Tigers momentum, but they weren’t done in the fifth. Derek Hill — who delivered a walk-off double in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory in extra innings — tripled to the left-center gap on a 3-1 fastball, plating Willi Castro for a 3-1 advantage.
Right-hander Matt Manning eased the Tigers through six innings, in the best outing of his 15-game MLB career. He allowed one run on two hits and three walks. He struck out six and fired 62 of 98 pitches for strikes.
From that point forward, the contest turned into a bullpen battle.
And just as in Tuesday’s win, the Tigers didn’t crumble.
Manager AJ Hinch stole Round 1, as Alex Lange confused the Brewers with his elite curveball for a perfect seventh frame. In the bottom half, Milwaukee called on Jake Cousins. With two outs, Garneau smacked a solo home run to left field for a 4-1 lead.
For the eighth, Michael Fulmer tossed a perfect eighth. The Brewers countered with ex-Tiger Daniel Norris, who was shipped away at this year’s trade deadline for a pitching prospect. He recorded one out before Jandel Gustave entered to face Miguel Cabrera with two runners on. Cabrera grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Fulmer returned for the ninth and completed the win.
Miggy ties the game
After Woodruff retired the first 11 batters he faced, Robbie Grossman snapped his streak with a two-out walk in the fourth inning. Cabrera followed by smacking a two-strike fastball to left-center for a double.
Already in motion, Grossman turned on his speed after a strong jump to score from first base. Third base coach Ramon Santiago got aggressive and didn’t hesitate, waving the veteran around the hot corner and toward home plate.
Grossman barely beat the throw from center fielder Lorenzo Cain to tie the game, 1-1, in the fourth.
Woodruff entered Wednesday’s game with a 2.48 ERA, 41 walks and 191 strikeouts over 163⅓ innings this season. The Tigers attacked the All-Star right-hander in his 28th start of the year for three runs on four hits and one walk over six innings. He struck out seven, throwing 59 of 90 pitches for strikes.
Across his six innings, Woodruff racked up 16 swings and misses and 11 called strikes. Although he only used 13 changeups, the offering registered four whiffs.
Manning gets going
The Brewers seemed ready to chase Manning from his start early.
The 23-year-old rookie picked up two quick outs in the second inning but started to fall apart. The next four batters tallied one single, two walks and one double — giving the Brewers a 1-0 lead on Cain’s RBI double and the bases loaded for Wong.
But Manning escaped the jam, getting Wong to groundout to second base. He then shook off the 30-pitch inning and improved the rest of the way: 12 pitches in the third, nine in the fourth, 12 in the fifth and 20 in the sixth. (He needed 15 pitches for a perfect first inning.)
Manning retired 13 batters in a row and 14 of his final 15 opponents to complete his start. He ended the fifth inning by striking out Eduardo Escobar with a 97 mph fastball. To conclude the sixth, he punched out Jace Peterson with a slider.
Throwing 98 pitches, Manning picked up 12 swings and misses: four with his four-seam fastball, one with his two-seam fastball, three with his curveball and four with his slider. He also mixed his pitches well, using his four-seamer (40%), two-seamer (31%), curveball (13%), slider (12%) and changeup (4%).
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.