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The Tigers' defense and bullpen struggled Thursday during their 7-5 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
Manning, the organization’s top pitching prospect, gave up two runs and four singles in five innings. He might have come away with a win, or at least a no-decision with a little more help.
“We didn’t play clean behind him,” manager AJ Hinch said. “We didn’t play clean later in the game, either.”
The Angels’ two-run second inning against Manning was set up by a careless play. Kean Wong smacked what should have been a one-out single to center. Daz Cameron nonchalantly approached the ball and Wong kept going, sliding into second safely.
“It’s a mental error,” Hinch said. “That’s the bottom line.”
Wong scored on Luis Rengifo’s single and when catcher Eric Haase misplayed the relay throw, Rengifo raced all the way to third. He then scored on David Fletcher’s single.
Manning came back to record his first career strikeout against former Tiger Justin Upton. Relying on a fastball that at times touched 97 mph, Manning finished strong, striking out two of the last three batters he faced.
“Once I got hit a little bit, I knew I didn’t want it to end there,” he said. “I wanted to keep going. The way our staff’s been going, I wanted to get five innings for them and give the guys some rest and just save the bullpen arms a little bit.”
The Angels stretched their lead to 7-1 with a five-run seventh that included more fielding issues. Kyle Funkhouser gave up a leadoff single prior to an error by shortstop Niko Goodrum. Upton reached on an infield single when first baseman Miguel Cabrera couldn’t get his foot on the bag in time after Goodrum’s throw.
A Jose Iglesias single and Taylor Ward grand slam put the Tigers in a deep hole.
After Shohei Ohtani held them to one run in six innings, the Tigers almost climbed out of it. They scored four runs in the last two innings against the Angels’ bullpen.
Cameron tried to make up for his earlier mistake by hustling for a double to spark the eighth-inning rally. Akil Baddoo grounded out with runners in scoring position after the Tigers pushed across three runs.
The Tigers scored on a wild pitch in the ninth and had a runner on with two down — but Jeimer Candelario grounded out into a shift.
“We put pressure on them,” Hinch said. “We had the tying run at the plate in the eighth and the ninth inning and made their closer (Raisel Iglesias) come in and throw two innings. We’ll see how that impacts the rest of the weekend.”
As for Manning’s impact, he’s earned at least one more start Wednesday at St. Louis and probably several more with Spencer Turnbull and Matthew Boyd on the injured list indefinitely.
“He stepped up and did his part,” Hinch said. “I think he’s going to be exhausted tonight because he put a lot of mental and physical energy into tonight and gave us a chance to win.”
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers' Matt Manning battles errors to earn another MLB start