Detroit — Tigers rookie right-hander Matt Manning left the mound after six innings pounding his glove with a look of satisfaction. He pounded his hand into his glove while walking back to the dugout congratulations.
Manning outdueled Milwaukee Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff, whose 2.48 ERA ranked fourth in MLB, and the Tigers came out on top, 4-1, Wednesday afternoon at Comerica Park.
Detroit swept the two-game series from a team tied for the third-most wins in the majors, and allowed the Brewers one run over 20 innings.
Manning (4-6) gave up one run on two hits (both in the second inning) over six innings, and was nearly perfect after letting an inning very nearly get away from him.
How a young pitcher deals with adversity early in games often determines his fate for the outing, and that was definitely the case in this one.
Manning retired the first five batters in the game, but then Jace Peterson singled and stole second with two outs in the second.
Then Manning walked two bottom-of-the order hitters with Lorenzo Cain doubling between those free passes to score the game’s first run. By walking Daniel Vogelbach (.211) and Manny Pina (.195), Manning put himself into a bases-loaded jam.
Tigers pitching coach Chris Fetter made a mound visit before Manning walked Pina, but Manning then sent him to first by missing on a 3-1 pitch.
Dangerous leadoff hitter Kolten Wong came to bat with a chance to make it a big inning. But Manning challenged him, getting ahead in the count 1-2, and got Wong to hit a harmless grounder to second baseman Willi Castro to end the threat.
The only runner Manning allowed to reach base until the sixth inning came in the third when cleanup hitter Omar Narvaez struck out swinging on a breaking ball in the dirt and reached first on a wild pitch.
However, after Manning walked Luis Urias on four pitches with two out in the sixth, Fetter made another trip to the mound to speak with him. A home run by Peterson at that point would’ve tied the score, but Manning got him to strike out swinging.
Catcher Dustin Garneau completed that strikeout on a tipped ball by diving to his left to catch the ball.
That’s when Manning smiled, pounded his glove and left having gotten the better of Woodruff (9-9 despite that great ERA) and the Brewers.
Woodruff — with his 97 mph fastball, sinker, changeup and slider — mowed through the first 11 Tigers he faced. Might Milwaukee be on its way to its second no-hitter in less than one week?
That thought had to cross minds.
But then Robbie Grossman worked a walk off a full-count pitch.
Miguel Cabrera, wearing No. 21 with other MLB players and teammate Willi Castro on Roberto Clemente Day, slapped a double to left-center with Grossman running on the 0-2 pitch.
Grossman scored all the way from first, and the game was tied.
Derek Hill capped a two-run rally in the fifth with a screaming RBI triple to center after Garneau had scored a run with a sacrifice fly. Harold Castro and Willi Castro, both beginning the inning with singles, scored the runs.
Garneau later added an insurance run with a two-out solo shot in the seventh inning. It had a 45.8-degree launch angle that was the second highest in the Statcast researching era by a Tiger. The only two higher than that were hit by J.D. Martinez in 2015.
Michael Fulmer blanked the Brewers over the final two innings to earn the save for Manning and the Tigers.
Steve Kornacki is a freelance writer.