Matt Manning returns from injured list in Detroit Tigers’ 5-3 win over Minnesota Twins

Detroit Free Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Detroit Tigers right-hander Matt Manning didn’t have the most spectacular performance in his return from the injured list, but he worked through five innings, allowed three runs and exited with a one-run deficit.

The Tigers mounted a comeback, winning 5-3 against the Minnesota Twins in the second of three games at Target Field, after losing Monday in extra innings. The offense backed Manning in the seventh inning with three runs, and once again, the bullpen was lights out.

“I was really excited to get out there,” Manning said. “I got to the ballpark early. When you’re gone for such a long time, you got to get it all back in the groove of things. … Right now, it’s my fourth game back with the rehab starts. It’s going to be a little bit of a build up, get the rust off and finish these two months strong.”

The Tigers (42-63) recorded seven hits and four walks with 13 strikeouts. Rookie center fielder Riley Greene and shortstop Javier Báez combined for four hits and three RBIs, but Greene struck out three times in his five at-bats.

“It was nice to have Matty back on the mound,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “He might have been just as nervous as he was for his debut. He looked a little bit jumpy early and was spraying the ball, but he settled in. … We’re looking for guys to win the game today, and we did. It’s nice to see some contributors.

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Facing Twins right-handed reliever Griffin Jax in the seventh, the Tigers had two runners on base with one out and produced the most successful stretch of plate appearances in a long time. Three consecutive RBI singles put the Tigers in front, 5-3.

Akil Baddoo singled on a full-count slider and Greene singled on a 1-0 changeup. Righty Trevor Megill replaced Jax, but that move didn’t slow down Báez, who singled on Megill’s first-pitch curveball.

“We came back from a couple different deficits, which was nice,” Hinch said. “I liked the at-bats. The bottom of the order did a nice job of moving the ball forward. When we did make contact, they were important swings.”

Before Tuesday’s win, the Tigers traded right-handed reliever Michael Fulmer to the Twins.

The transaction, from one clubhouse to the other at Target Field, didn’t stop four Tigers relievers — right-hander Jason Foley, left-hander Andrew Chafin, righty Joe Jiménez and lefty closer Gregory Soto — from keeping the Twins scoreless over the final four innings.

Foley had the most trouble in the sixth inning.

He facing two runners on with one out but escaped trouble after a mound visit from Hinch, not pitching coach Chris Fetter. Hinch provided instructions, and Foley needed just two pitches to induce an inning-ending double play.

“I liked that he didn’t hand me the ball as I got to the mound,” Hinch said.

Soto notched his 20th save in 22 chances.

“We checked with him beforehand, and he’s pretty resilient,” Hinch said. “We match up pretty well against these guys. A lot of left-right balance. We want Soto in there when he’s good, and he’s pretty good about tells us when he’s not. … He’ll likely be down tomorrow, regardless of how he feels, but I didn’t have any hesitation with him.”

Manning the ship

Pitching in MLB for the first time since April 16, Manning allowed two runs in the third inning and one run in the fifth.

The Twins tallied five hits and four walks against him, only striking out once. In the third inning, Jorge Polanco struck out swinging on a slider below the strike zone. The best pitch in Manning’s arsenal was his slider, which recorded four of only five swings and misses.

“I was fighting my command today,” Manning said. “I knew I was missing arm side early, then overcorrected and started missing glove side to finish batters. I really liked where my off-speed stuff was at, but I didn’t give myself a lot of chances to succeed. I’m just happy we got a win.”

The 24-year-old, returning from a right shoulder injury, worked around a walk in the first inning and a walk and a single in the second before the Twins scored two runs in the third. Mark Contreras opened the frame with a solo home run right field off Manning’s changeup.

It was Contreras’ first career MLB homer.

The next two batters — Luis Arraez (first-pitch single) and Carlos Correa (four-pitch walk) — reached safely. Jose Miranda loaded the bases by reaching on a fielder’s choice, as third baseman Jeimer Candelario missed the tag with Arraez sliding into the hot corner.

A sacrifice fly from Nick Gordon put the Twins ahead 2-0. Baddoo, the left fielder, didn’t help his starting pitcher after catching the shallow fly ball. He threw to the first-base side of home plate, making catcher Eric Haase late to the plate in his attempt to tag a diving Arraez.

“Just missing on some of the heaters,” Haase said. “Not spraying all over the place, just missing, but being able to land his secondary was huge. The second time through (the batting order), it seemed like they started sitting on it. Still, he threw just enough heaters to keep them off it and keep us in the game.”

In the fifth inning, the Tigers tied the score, 2-2, only for Manning to put the Tigers behind again. Correa led off the bottom of the fifth with a walk, and Jorge Polanco followed with a single to put runners on the corners.

Fetter appeared for a mound visit.

After a mound visit from pitching coach Chris Fetter and a Miranda ground out, Nick Gordon flied into a sacrifice double play. Right fielder Will Castro caught the ball for the second out, but his throw home didn’t beat Correa. But Haase ended the inning when he threw the ball to Báez, who tagged out Miranda at second base.

For his 78 pitches (43 strikes), Manning used 37 four-seam fastballs (47%), 22 sliders (28%), 10 two-seam fastballs (13%), five curveballs (6%) and four changeups (5%). Relying primarily on two pitches — fastball and slider — impacted Manning’s chances of racking up whiffs.

He didn’t record any swings and misses or called strikes with his curveball and changeup.

“He’s able to throw it behind in the count, which is good,” Hinch said of Manning’s slider. “He was behind in the count a lot. He’s going to throw more strikes when he’s at his best, but he’s going to need to find a way to get off the barrel and off the timing of the fastball whenever he’s in tough counts.”

Tigers get the best of Archer this time

The Tigers scored their first two runs in the fifth and chased Twins right-hander Chris Archer from his 18th start.

A one-out RBI double from Jonathan Schoop scored Willi Castro (walk) and forced Archer’s departure. The Twins replaced him with right-handed reliever Jovani Moran, who allowed a two-out RBI double to Greene to tie the game.

Archer allowed two runs on two hits and three walks with eight strikeouts in 4⅓ innings, throwing 49 of 77 pitches for strikes. The 33-year-old, a 10-year MLB veteran, has posted solid efforts against the Tigers three times this season, also doing so May 23 (one run in four innings) and June 2 (one run in five innings).

This time, Archer had 15 swings and misses.

Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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