DETROIT — When Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch replaced Miguel Cabrera with Harold Castro ahead of the seventh inning, he didn't necessarily expect the utility player to take on the role of a hero in Monday's series opener against the Chicago White Sox.
But that's exactly what Castro did.
Facing White Sox reliever Craig Kimbrel, Castro delivered a two-out single through the right side, scoring Robbie Grossman from second base. He lifted the Tigers a 4-3 victory Monday at Comerica Park.
To prepare for the game-winning hit, the Tigers received scoreless efforts from relievers Ian Krol (one inning) and Drew Hutchison (two innings).
Alex Lange pitched the ninth inning and logged the first save of his MLB career.
What was Hernandez thinking?
After the White Sox posted the first three runs of the game in the top of the third inning, the Tigers answered with three of their own in the bottom half. The offense forced Chicago starter Carlos Rodon to chuck 30 pitches in the second, and he didn't look the same upon returning the third — from his velocity to his location to his results.
The first three batters reached base: Isaac Paredes (walk), Willi Castro (single) and Victor Reyes (RBI single). The single from Reyes, which was deflected by second baseman Cesar Hernandez, cut the Tigers' deficit to 3-1.
And the next at-bat featured a big mistake.
Jonathan Schoop put the ball in play up the middle, slightly to the right side of second base. Hernandez fielded the ball with his glove, transferred it to his throwing hand and attempted to chase Reyes between first and second base. When Reyes backpedaled and purposefully fell backward, Hernandez tagged him in the chest with his glove — except the ball was still in his bare hand.
The result: Reyes and Schoop were safe at second and first, respectively, while Castro scored easily. Hernandez received a fielding error for his sloppy mistake.
Cabrera's ensuing sacrifice fly to center tied the game.
The 19-year veteran became the 20th MLB player since runs batted in became an official stat in 1920 to reach 1,800 RBIs. After accomplishing 500 home runs in August, Cabrera remains five doubles away from No. 600 and 21 hits from No. 3,000.
Rodon did not return after the third inning.
The 28-year-old All-Star entered Monday with a 2.38 ERA but allowed three runs (two earned) on two hits and two walks. He struck out six, tossing 44 of 69 pitches for strikes. During the third, Rodon's fastball dipped as low as 89 mph.
New game, new Manning
Matt Manning could have crumbled in his 16th MLB start, but instead, the 23-year-old rookie stepped up to deliver back-to-back scoreless innings in the fourth and fifth to keep the Tigers and White Sox knotted at three.
Trotting into the dugout, Manning earned a firm handshake from manager AJ Hinch and high-fives from his teammates.
Before his strong finish, Manning allowed the first three batters to reach safely in the third inning: Brian Goodwin (walk), Tim Anderson (single) and Luis Robert (hit by pitch).
Yoan Moncada (force out), Yasmani Grandal (sacrifice fly) and Eloy Jimenez (double) each picked up RBIs. Manning needed 26 pitches to get through the third, after he walked a pair in a 25-pitch second inning.
In the end, Manning fired 60 of 90 pitches for strikes.
He tossed 36 four-seam fastballs, 20 two-seam fastballs, 17 curveballs, nine changeups and eight sliders. He racked up six swings and misses, generating them with his four-seamer (four), curveball (one) and slider (one).©2021 www.freep.com. Visit at freep.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.