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.