A game that looked like a blowout got interesting late as the Tigers showed their usual fight trying to give the hometown a fans one last victory at Comerica Park this season. However, an ugly fourth inning from starter Matt Manning had them in too deep a hole to escape as they fell 8-7 to the White Sox on Monday afternoon.
This was not a good day for Manning. He may get another crack at the White Sox this weekend, but if this was his final appearance, he’ll start the offseason with a bad taste in his mouth. The rookie right-hander just had no feel for either breaking ball today, and despite working his way through three innings without much damage, it never looked good for long and he completely fell apart in the fourth.
The signs were there early on. Manning struck out Luis Robert swinging for the first out of the game, then promptly walked Leury Garcia and Jose Abreu. Fortunately, he bounced back to freeze Yasmani Grandal with a fastball for strike three and Eric Haase gunned down Garcia trying to steal third to end the inning in style.
Things went similarly for the Tigers in the bottom half of the inning. Jonathan Schoop and Miguel Cabrera singled, but a deep fly ball off the bat of Jeimer Candelario was hauled in by Eloy Jimenez in left to end the inning.
Manning bounced back with a quick second inning, and the Tigers took advantage of their patience. Isaac Paredes walked to lead off the inning, but was erased on a double play ball off the bat of Eric Haase. No matter, as Niko Goodrum also put together a disciplined AB and drew a walk. Willi Castro followed with a single, and then Akil Baddoo drilled a line drive single the opposite way against the lefty to drive Goodrum in.
Manning managed a quick third inning despite some solid contact from White Sox’ hitters, but in the fourth he really fell apart. Jose Abreu lined out to Robbie Grossman in right field to start the inning, but Yasmani Grandal followed with a solo shot to center field to tie the game. Manning then walked back-to-back hitters and got a visit from Chris Fetter. This time the Fetter magic was absent, as Manning got ahead of Andrew Vaughn 0-2, but couldn’t put him away, ultimately giving up his third straight walk. Cesar Hernandez doubled to left field, driving in two runs, and Zack Collins followed with a two-run single to knock Manning out of the game. Bryan Garcia allowed an RBI double to Luis Robert before finally getting the Tigers out of the inning now down 6-1.
Jonathan Schoop cranked a solo shot in the fifth, marking his 21st long ball on the year, but otherwise the Tigers weren’t making anything happen. Garcia managed to keep the White Sox off the board in the top of the fifth, and then Ian Krol did the same in the sixth. However Krol then gave up two more runs in the top of the seventh, and things were looking very bleak indeed.
Jason Foley pitched a scoreless eighth, and finally a scuffling Tigers’ offense broke out in the bottom half of the inning. Tony La Russa brought out Mike Wright with an 8-2 lead, and Miguel Cabrera greeted him enthusiastically with a line drive double to left. Wright walked Jeimer Candelario and then hit Isaac Paredes, loading the bases with no outs.
That was enough of Wright, and La Russa came out to call on flame-throwing lefty Garrett Crochet. However, no matter how hard you throw them, Eric Haase loves fastballs, and he loves lefties, and he ripped a two-run single to left to make it 8-4 Sox. Niko Goodrum followed with a two-run triple into the right field corner, and when Schoop lifted a sacrifice fly to plate Goodrum, the score was 8-7 and suddenly the Tigers were in business.
Alex Lange took over in the top of the ninth, looking to hold the White Sox down and give his team one more chance at the comeback. Leury Garcia flew out, but Lange hit Jose Abreu on the left arm with a fastball. The White Sox dugout lost its collective mind about this, despite the fact that they’d already plunked Paredes in the game, and bench coach Miguel Cairo was thrown out of the game for arguing with the umpires about it.
Abreu was apparently still hot over it as well, because he tried to steal second base on a ball that didn’t bounce far from Eric Haase. That was cute, though he was thrown out on a bang-bang play, but Abreu went hard into second, sliding through the bag trying to vent his frustrations on Niko Goodrum as the Tigers’ shortstop applied the tag. Goodrum dodged the worst of it with no issue, but Abreu wasn’t done and got in Goodrum’s face for a moment, presumably still whining about getting hit. Pretty soon the benches cleared for the usual posturing.
This all smacked heavily of a struggling team trying to get their “us against the world” vibe going for October, because it was all pretty soft, and not really in character for Abreu at all. We’ll see how things go next weekend, but the White Sox seem determined to make this a thing.
Dallas Keuchel slid this one in during postgame:
“If I was pitching tomorrow I’d stick up for Pito (Jose Abreu) myself. Or I guess Friday.”
Sox host the Tigers this weekend.
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) September 27, 2021
Lange allowed a double to Yasmani Grandal once things settled down, but Jimenez grounded out to end the inning.
The Tigers needed to get the leadoff man on against a tough closer in Liam Hendricks, and did so, as Candelario laced a single to get things started. It didn’t help, as Paredes lined out to left, and then Haase and Goodrum struck out in succession to end the game. In Goodrum’s case, home plate umpire Lance Barrett apparently had a flight to catch and figured 26 outs was close enough. These were all called strikes on Goodrum as the potential go-ahead run in the bottom of the ninth.
The Tigers fought back as they typically have all year, but Manning’s start was too much to overcome. The Tigers’ strengths and weaknesses were all on display, and while it ended in a loss, it was a fairly representative game for a scrappy and entertaining 2021 Tigers team to end their home schedule with.