Detroit Tigers give Alek Manoah, Toronto Blue Jays too warm a welcome in 12-2 loss

Detroit Free Press

Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah stepped onto an MLB mound in a game Friday for the first time since June 5, when a terrible start promoted a rare demotion to the Florida Complex League.

A month-long absence to fix his delivery in the minors, as well as the optimal opponent for a strong return to the starting rotation, helped him find his groove as the All-Star break approaches.

The Detroit Tigers lost, 12-2, to Manoah and the Blue Jays in Friday’s series opener at Comerica Park. In the 2022 season, Manoah posted a 2.24 ERA across 196⅔ innings and finished third in American League Cy Young voting (behind Justin Verlander and Dylan Cease).

“He started gaining a little bit of confidence,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “I think he got into the rhythm of the game. Pitching with the lead, I think he settled in and they were able to extend him with no stress.”

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The Tigers (38-49) surrendered six runs — all charged to right-hander Alex Faedo, returning from the injured list for his first start since May 30 — to the Blue Jays in the fourth inning.

The six-run inning doomed the Tigers.

“We got to keep the game close,” shortstop Javier Báez said. “They came in and had a good approach against us, and we just couldn’t respond.”

Manoah allowed one run on five hits and one walk with eight strikeouts across six innings, throwing 64 of 91 pitches for strikes. The 25-year-old didn’t walk a batter under Miguel Cabrera’s free pass in the seventh inning.

The next batter, Andy Ibáñez, grounded into an inning-ending double play.

“You have to be patient enough if he’s going to dance around the strike zone,” Hinch said. “When he’s in the strike zone, he beats you. He mixes his pitches well. He’s not a bad pitcher. I think we have to take the scoreboard numbers with a grain of salt with what he’s done in his career.”

Manoah threw 31 four-seam fastballs, 30 sliders, 22 sinkers and eight changeups, generating 11 whiffs with seven fastballs and four sliders. The combination of fastballs and sliders kept the Tigers guessing.

He completed six innings for the first time since April 22, and his ERA improved from 6.36 to 5.91.

Go fourth and prosper

An RBI double from George Springer put the Blue Jays ahead, 1-0, in the third inning, but the damage didn’t happen until Faedo — returning from right middle finger discomfort — completely fell apart in the fourth.

Faedo, 27, allowed seven runs on six hits and two walks with two strikeouts across 3⅔ innings, throwing 47 of 72 pitches for strikes. He retired the first eight batters he faced, including swinging strikeouts of Bo Bichette and Brandon Belt in the first inning.

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In the fourth, however, a walk, wild pitch, single and walk loaded the bases for Whit Merrifield with no outs. He sent Faedo’s third-pitch slider into center for an RBI single, making it 2-1 Blue Jays.

“A lot of pros, a lot of cons,” Faedo said. “The first three innings went really good. The fourth inning, obviously, went how it went. Looking back at it, some good and some bad, but I got to be able to limit the damage in the fourth.”

Toronto’s lead increased three times after Merrifield’s single: 4-1 on Danny Jansen’s two-RBI double, 5-1 on Kevin Kiermaier’s groundout and 7-1 on Springer’s two-run home run to left field. For the 417-foot homer, Springer smashed Faedo’s hanging first-pitch slider with a 111.5 mph exit velocity.

“I didn’t get tired out there,” Faedo said. “I was able to keep making pitches, but they just did a good job of spoiling (pitches) and hitting the balls where guys aren’t.”

Right-handed reliever Mason Englert replaced Faedo and recorded the final out in the fourth inning. The Tigers used Englert, righty Brendan White, lefty Chasen Shreve and righty José Cisnero out of the bullpen.

Cisnero gave up five runs, including a three-run homer to Merrifield, without recording an out in the top of the ninth inning. As a result, his ERA went from 2.18 to 3.55 in 33 innings this season.

“It could have been a little bit too much time off, which is something I would have never said as we were draining our bullpen in the last 10 days,” Hinch said. “Lack of command really hurt him. He didn’t execute a ton. I feel for him. That’s not his normal spot to pitch in, but we needed to get to the end of the game.”

With the Blue Jays finally leading by 10 runs, the Tigers sent position player Zack Short to the mound with no outs in the ninth.

Short loaded the bases but worked out of the jam.

Tork delivers another RBI

The Tigers scored their first of two runs in the third inning.

Three of the first four batters reached safely with singles from Ibáñez, Jake Rogers and Spencer Torkelson. Torkelson tied the game, 1-1, by putting a first-pitch sinker into center to drive in Ibáñez.

It was his 43rd RBI in 85 games this season.

“We’ve been here before,” Báez said. “We have to come back tomorrow and play better. We can win the series if we play clean baseball.”

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The Tigers stranded Rogers and Torkelson, however, when Matt Vierling grounded out and Kerry Carpenter lined out.

In the sixth inning, Vierling didn’t benefit from a one-out infield single, which occurred after Manoah struck out Torkelson on three pitches. Back-to-back strikeouts from Carpenter and Báez stranded Vierling at first base.

“We got to come back and work hard,” Báez said. “Focus on what we got to focus on, and obviously, me making adjustments hitting the ball in the (strike) zone. When we’re winning, and I do good, the whole team will do good.”

The Tigers cut the deficit to 7-2 in the eighth inning on Vierling’s two-out RBI single, his third hit of the game. Zach McKinstry, running before the pitch, scored from first base on a grounder that rolled through the infield and into center.

Left fielder Akil Baddoo finished 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his first game for the Tigers since June 9. He missed the past month with a right quad strain and was activated before Friday’s game, replacing infielder Tyler Nevin.

Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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