KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Detroit Tigers were forced to rely on their bullpen for six innings.
That wasn’t the plan.
Right-hander Matt Manning, making his second start of the season, exited after 38 pitches with right shoulder discomfort. A mix of three relievers, some more successful than others, took over beginning in the third inning in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Detroit dropped to 4-5.
MORE ROTATION WOES: Tigers pitcher Matt Manning leaves game with right shoulder discomfort
The game-changing hit came with one out in the sixth inning, after Carlos Santana drew a full-count walk from Tigers righty Will Vest. The next batter, Hunter Dozier, received three sliders in a row.
Vest tossed the first two in for swinging strikes, but Dozier didn’t miss the third offering. Vest, who made his MLB debut as a Rule 5 draft pick with the Seattle Mariners last season, hung the third in the middle of the zone.
Dozier put the ball into the left-field seats for a 3-1 lead.
Right-hander Drew Hutchison pitched three scoreless innings following Manning’s departure, working three strikeouts. His slider was especially useful, with six swings and misses.
After Vest allowed two runs, righty Jason Foley pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings.
He’s the Man-ning
In the first two innings, Manning allowed one run on five hits.
He tallied two strikeouts without a walk.
The Royals scored their first run in the first inning, thanks to back-to-back one-out singles from Bobby Witt Jr. and Andrew Benintendi. Those hits set the table for Salvador Perez, who grounded out to third base.
Third baseman Jeimer Candelario made a sharp diving stop and fired to first, but Witt scored in the process to put the Royals ahead 1-0. Manning struck out Santana with a slider to end the first frame.
Candelario made three superb defense plays in Saturday’s game, but he finished 0-for-4 with one strikeout. He is hitting .121 (4-for-33) in nine games this season. The Tigers totaled one run on four hits and seven walks.
Manning pitched around three singles in the second inning.
With one out, Nicky Lopez singled to left field. Eric Haase, a catcher who doubles as a left fielder, came up throwing. He fired a bullet to starting catcher Dustin Garneau, throwing out Dozier trying to score from second base.
For Manning’s 38 pitches (27 strikes), the 24-year-old used 16 four-seam fastballs (42%), 10 curveballs (26%), seven sliders (18%), four sinkers (11%) and one changeup (3%). Manning generated five swings and misses: one four-seamer, two curveballs and two sliders.
His fastball averaged 92.9 mph.
Daz-zling on the bases
Royals left-hander Kris Bubic allowed one run on two hits and six walks with four strikeouts across 4⅓ innings. Then, Kansas City got scoreless efforts from relievers Collin Snider, Dylan Coleman, Scott Barlow and Josh Staumont.
The Tigers scored their lone run in the second inning.
Daz Cameron, after drawing a two-out walk, survived a pickoff attempt and notched the eighth stolen base (in eight attempts) in his MLB career. He scored on Garneau’s double to the left-center gap, tying the game at 1-1.
In his first game back from injury, Robbie Grossman went 1-for-2 with two walks. He nearly knotted the score in the seventh, clubbing a 3-2 fastball from Coleman for a 385-foot flyout to the back of the warning track in right field with a runner on base.
Miguel Cabrera, who is five hits from 3,000 in his career, went 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.