Tigers 8, Royals 4: Bats stay hot to back Matt Manning

Bless You Boys

On a rainy Saturday in KC, the Tigers blew the Royals away in the middle innings with a sustained display of extra base power to secure the series victory in a rain shortened contest. In the process they continued to creep right up on the Royals’ heels for fourth place in the AL Central.

Matt Manning got in a bit of trouble in the bottom of the first before settling in. A one-out double from Bobby Witt Jr. was followed by Sal Perez hunting a breaking ball and slapping it to left for an RBI single. Manning got two quick outs to close out the inning, but the Royals had the early lead.

It didn’t last long.

In the top of the second, Kerry Carpenter worked a 3-0 count from Jonathan Heasley and then hammered a low fastball 396 feet for his fourth home run to tie the game. Spencer Torkelson singled on a liner to left, but was stranded when Jeimer Candelario popped out.

Manning bounced back with a strong half inning in the bottom of the second. He got Michael Massey to ground out, and then froze Nick Pratto and Kyle Isbel for called third strikes.

Akil Baddoo led off the third with a walk, and after Riley Greene popped out, Victor Reyes smoked a triple to the wall in right to score Baddoo. Javy Báez took an oppo approach all day and followed Reyes with a liner up the right center field gap for an RBI double. Harold Castro singled through the right side, Báez raced around to score, and it was 4-1 Tigers.

Manning got three quick outs in the bottom half, but by now the rain was really coming down, making it tough to grip balls and bats. Heasley called out the grounds crew in the top of the fourth to get the mound in shape with a heathy dose of Quick-Dry, but was clearly also struggling to grip the ball. Manning had even more trouble in the bottom half. He couldn’t get any bite on his breaking balls, and after Sal Perez led off with a single, Manning threw a would-be curveball to the backstop. Vinnie Pasquantino grounded out, moving Perez to second, and there was a lengthy delay as Manning asked for a fresh, drier supply of balls from the dugout, a new rosin bag, and a towel. The rain was just streaming down everyone’s face when Bally Sports showed a close-up, and you had to wonder if they’d be able to continue.

Manning got Michael A. Taylor to ground out, scoring Perez, and the next hitter, Massey, lost his bat on a whiff and sent it tomahawking into the Royals’ dugout, where fortunately no one was hurt. A very angry Massey tried to bunt in a 2-2 count, not trusting himself to hold on to the bat, and fouled out, slamming his bat to the dirt. Good times.

These were good times for the Tigers, as the torrent of extra base power continued in the top of the fifth. Baddoo led off with a walk again, and Riley Greene singled, with a Kyle Isbel throwing error advancing them to second and third. Victor Reyes came up with a big two-run single to center and it was 6-2 Tigers. The Royals went to the bullpen for Collin Snider at that point. Báez greet the new reliever with a drive to the wall in right for an RBI triple, his second extra base hit on the day, and Harold Castro ripped a ground ball back through the box for an RBI single to score Báez, and it was now 8-2.

Manning seemed settled back in and a little drier in the top of the fifth. He handled a comebacker from Pratto for the first out, froze Isbel for strike three again, and Nicky Lopez lined out to Greene in center for a quick half inning.

Spencer Torkelson led off the sixth against lefty Amir Garrett with a shot off the wall in left field for a triple. Unfortunately, Candelario and Baddoo struck out. Riley Greene drew a four-pitch walk with two out, but Reyes lined out to center to end the half inning. Manning racked up three quick ground ball outs in the bottom of the sixth as his pitch count reached 85. It was good to see him fight through the conditions as he was clearly extremely frustrated by the situation at its worst in the fourth and fifth innings.

In the top of the seventh, the Royals capitulated, pulling Salvador Perez in favor of backup catcher Sebastian Rivero. Carlos Hernandez succeeded Garrett out of the Royals bullpen. We were probably lucky that no one got hurt in this one as there were puddles forming in the infield and outfield by the middle innings.

The Tigers went 1-2-3, and Hinch sent Manning out for the bottom half. He walked Pasquantino, but got Michael A. Taylor to ground into a force at second. The ball went right up the middle and Harold Castro picked it behind second base as he reached the outfield grass and flipped it high with his glove to Báez, who made a slick play to catch it and get his toe to the base just before Pasquantino slid in. Originally ruled safe, Báez called for a challenge immediately, Hinch obliged, and Pasquantino was out.

At that point, Hinch came out to pull Manning at 94 pitches, sending Andrew Chafin in to face the left-handed hitting Massey. Chafin got Massey to ground out, moving Taylor to second, but walked Nick Pratto. Nate Eaton pinch hit for Isbel, and pulled a routine grounder to Báez that should’ve ended the inning. For whatever reason, Castro wasn’t ready for Báez’s toss, perhaps expecting him to go to first. Either way, the flip was right to him but Harold was caught off guard and ducked under the throw at the last minute. It went right over him, Taylor scored, and everyone was safe. Nicky Lopez followed with a ground ball to Harold that he also couldn’t convert as Pratto scored. Fortunately, Chafin cut off the rally there by striking out Melendez to end the inning.

Manning wasn’t charged for the last run as it was an obvious error on Castro. His line ended with 6.1 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 H, BB, 4 SO. Pretty good on a day where they really had to battle the elements all game long.

Kerry Carpenter singled the opposite way, against lefty Anthony Misiewicz, to start the eighth. Torkelson did not hammer the baseball somewhere this time, striking out on three pitches. Candelario flew out to left for the second out, and Baddoo struck out to end the half inning.

At this point, the rain really picked up again, and they finally called for the tarp.

….

Finally, around 7:50 p.m. EDT, they finally called the game and put it in the books as a Tigers’ victory. With the victory, the Tigers are now a game and a half behind the Royals for fourth place in the AL Central. Tyler Alexander will face a tough matchup against RHP Brady Singer on Sunday at 2:10 p.m. EDT..

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