Diamondbacks 6, Tigers 4: Manning struggles and a comeback falls short

Bless You Boys

A wild back and forth contest didn’t quite go the Tigers way, but they showed some fight against a good team desperately trying to avoid getting swept at home. The fault in this one has to rest on Matt Manning, who really struggled early before settling into the game. From that point on it was pretty even but the Tigers couldn’t quite overtake the Diamondbacks.

There were some interesting storylines at play for both teams in this one. For the Tigers, this was about Matt Manning. With Kenta Maeda close to a return, this was Manning’s likely last shot to make a statement. He’ll get more chances, but Manning is running out of time rapidly with several Tigers pitching prospects on his tail. He wasn’t able to do anything to improve his standing in this one and you have to wonder what the Tigers plans for him are with guys like Jackson Jobe, Ty Madden, and Keider Montero coming up and potentially ready for big league debuts this summer.

From the Diamondbacks perspective, this was about the moves they made to boost a rotation that ran out of gas in the World Series. They needed lefty help and made two big signings this offseason. They inked Eduardo Rodriguez to a four-year, $80M deal, and Rodriguez hasn’t pitched a game yet due to shoulder trouble.

The other signing was the guy that tormented them in the World Series, left-hander Jordan Montgomery, who they signed late after Scott Boras presumably held out for too much money. Montgomery arrived on a one-year, $25M deal with vesting options for 2025, and so far he’s been very middling for the Diamondbacks. That also would continue in this one.

Matt Manning got into trouble right away. Corbin Carroll opened the bottom of the first with a triple to the wall in center field. Manning walked Ketel Marte and Joc Pederson pulled his hands in on an inside fastball and lined it to right for an RBI double, though it was probably a single and an error on Wenceel Pérez. A Christian Walker sac fly scored Marte, and Manning was lucky to escape the inning with no further damage.

In the second, Manning walked light-hitting catcher and old friend, Tucker Barnhart with one out. He bounced back to strike out Carroll, but Marte lined a single to center field and Pederson came through again with an RBI single to make it 3-0.

Spencer Torkelson got a run back in the top of the third as he led off the inning with his third home run on the year. This one was crushed to left center at 106.5 mph and flew 428 feet. 3-1 Dbacks.

Manning pitched through more traffic in the bottom of the third but kept them off the board. The Dbacks had stranded six runners over the first three innings, so he was fortunate it was still a close game.

In the fourth, Manning walked Carroll to lead off the inning. Carson Kelly cut him down trying to steal second, with a fine no-look tag from Báez getting him in the nick of time after the Tigers challenged the initial safe call.

Marte and Pederson followed with singles and a Walker sac fly made it 4-1.

Finally in the fifth the Tigers really started to chip away at the lead. Pérez singled to right field with one out and took second on a fly out from Torkelson. Pérez then caught the Dbacks napping and stole third, scoring on a Báez line drive single to left. 4-2.

Manning finally tossed a clean inning in the fifth. He allowed a one out single, but Kevin Newman lined out sharply to Báez who uncorked a laser beam to first to double off Blaze Alexander. The Tigers then got another run back when Andy Ibáñez walked and eventually scored on a Matt Vierling double in the top of the sixth. 4-3 Tigers.

Tyler Holton took over from Manning in the bottom of the sixth. Manning finished with 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 10 H, 3 BB, K. He got just four whiffs against the 26 batters he faced. Nowhere near good enough.

Holton spun a clean inning and the Tigers got back to work in the seventh.

Pérez led off with a walk, but Torey Lovullo took out Montgomerty in favor of side-arming right-hander Ryan Thompson. Pérez was erased by a Torkelson ground ball and Báez struck out, but A.J. Hinch went to the bench for Kerry Carpenter to hit for Carson Kelly, and Carpenter got a sinker that hung up with two strikes and crushed it off the wall in center field. Pérez scored easily, and as Carroll initially thought it was a home run and didn’t pursue it, and then a relay was briefly bobbled, Joey Cora sent Carpenter for the inside-the-parker. He almost got it. Barnhart arguably blocked the plate prior to getting the ball, but the officials didn’t see it that way, and a swipe tag got Carpenter a fraction of a second before he touched the plate. Still, it was a tie game and new life for the Tigers.

No problem with the send. The Diamondbacks handled this play with their clown shoes on and Carpenter was ultimately out by an inch or two at most. The problem is that no one understands the blocking rule and it remains a complete wild card in the details of the rule.

It didn’t last too long. Randal Grichuk pinch-hit for Pederson against Holton and led off the bottom half of the seventh with a single. Alex Faedo took over and gave up a Walker single. Gurriel Jr. grounded out, and Pavin Smith grounded one to shortstop. Báez fired home to get Grichuk, but Jake Rogers couldn’t hang onto the ball. Another ground out scored Walker, and it was 6-4 before Faedo struck out Barnhart to finally end the inning.

The fight was far from over, however.

Hinch put Colt Keith in to leadoff the eighth in place of Ibáñez, and Keith smacked a leadoff single the opposite way. Canha’s ground out moved Keith to second, and a Riley Greene single moved him to third. He had to check as the ball went by him and slipped, or he probably would’ve scored there. Matt Vierling struck out, but Riley Greene stole second and the Tigers just really needed a single from Gio Urshela. Unfortunately, Thompson struck him out after a lengthy battle and the Tigers were down to their final three outs.

Faedo struck out two in the bottom of the eighth and had no trouble, and it was last call.

Closer Paul Sewald hadn’t yet been seen in the series, and that was a good thing. He had no trouble with the Tigers in closing this out. Pérez flew out to start the top of the ninth. Torkelson nearly took one in the head and then struck out. Javy popped out to end it.

We’ll take a series victory after the recent rough stretch, but this one stung after they’d muster a comeback to overcome Manning’s start.

The Tigers fall back to .500, and they now travel to Kansas City looking to gain on the second place Royals. RHP Reese Olson will take on RHP Michael Wacha at 7:40 p.m. ET on Monday night.

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