Tigers win fifth straight on Cabrera’s homer; Manning late scratch

Detroit News

Detroit – Everything seemed normal.

Matt Manning completed his pregame warmup and bullpen session Wednesday night ahead of his scheduled start against the Royals. He walked back into the dugout surrounded by catcher Eric Haase and pitching coach Chris Fetter and slapped hands with the bullpen pitchers as they crossed paths.

Just like always.

Then, in a blink, right-handed reliever Will Vest was hurriedly warming up in the bullpen. Fetter ran out to the plate where manager AJ Hinch was exchanging lineup cards and ground rules with the umpires.

Nothing is ever normal for this baseball team. Not this year.

Manning, who missed three months with shoulder inflammation, presumably told the coaches in the dugout that his arm felt fatigued and he was scratched from his start. The Tigers called the move precautionary pending further tests after the game.

Instead of Manning making his next to last start of the season, Hinch threw an impromptu bullpen party. And somehow the Tigers pulled it off.

The Royals put at least two runners on base in six of the nine innings, leaving the bases loaded twice, as the Tigers extended their winning streak to five with a 2-1 win at Comerica Park.

Vest, making the first start of his professional career, was greeted with a leadoff home run by MJ Melendez in his one and only inning.

Miguel Cabrera countered with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first. He barreled up a slider from Royals lefty starter Daniel Lynch and hit it 411 feet over the fence in left-center field. It was his fifth homer of the season (507th of his career) and his first since July 15.

That 2-1 score stood up, despite a fleet of Royals baserunners, until the eighth.

Daniel Norris and Garrett Hill each pitched two scoreless innings. Norris has now pitched six straight scoreless innings this month, allowing one hit with no walks and seven strikeouts. The single he yielded to Kyle Isbel in the second inning was the first hitter to reach base against him since Sept. 9.

Isbel was promptly erased trying to steal second – strong throw by catcher Eric Haase, even better tag by Javier Baez. Baez’s lightning-quick hands nabbed Isbel trying to steal again in the eighth.

Hill had to work out of trouble in both his innings. He punched out Isbel with two on in the fourth and Vinnie Pasquantino (on three pitches) with two on in the fifth.

Jose Cisnero needed help getting out of the sixth. He gave up a single and walked two batters. With the bases-loaded and two outs, and left-handed hitting Melendez coming up, Hinch summoned lefty Andrew Chafin.

It took Cisnero 28 pitches to create the mess. It took Chafin one pitch to clean it up. He got Melendez to ground out to second base.

He’d need a lot more (16) to get out of the seventh. The Royals loaded the bases again with one out, but Chafin got a clutch strikeout of Hunter Dozier and retired Drew Waters on a ground out.

At that point the Royals were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12.

Alex Lange got through the eighth, though he gave up a single to Isbel (thrown out at second) and walked Melendez.

That left it to closer Gregory Soto to finish it off. Which he did cleanly, posting his 29th save.

cmccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky

More:BOX SCORE: Tigers vs. Royals

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