Manager A.J. Hinch didn't have time to plan.
Matt Manning, the Detroit Tigers' scheduled starting pitcher, slammed his glove into the bench in the dugout before walking into the clubhouse alongside pitching coach Chris Fetter. The 24-year-old right-hander suffered arm fatigue in pregame warmups, and minutes before Wednesday's first pitch, was scratched.
So, righty reliever Will Vest received the first start of his career.
Vest surrendered a leadoff solo home run but led a bullpen-only game for the Tigers, featuring seven relief pitchers. The Tigers won, 2-1, over the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park for their seventh victory in the past eight games, improving to 62-92 overall.
(NOT) ON THE MOUND:Matt Manning misses Tigers start with arm fatigue in pregame warmups
Neither team scored after the first inning.
For the first run, Royals leadoff hitter MJ Melendez blasted a solo home run over the wall in left-center. He attacked a fifth-pitch fastball at the bottom of the strike zone; it was Melendez's first swing.
Melendez, a rookie with 122 games of experience, has 18 homers and four leadoff shots.
Miguel Cabrera, a 20-year veteran with 2,695 games in the big leagues, answered with a two-run home run to left-center in the bottom of the first inning. Cabrera, who went deep for the first time since July 25, has five homers this season and 507 in his career.
The ball traveled 411 feet.
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) September 28, 2022
Before Cabrera's home run, Riley Greene and Javier Báez opened the Tigers' offensive efforts with back-to-back strikeouts against Royals right-hander Daniel Lynch. But Eric Haase kept the inning alive with a two-out single.
Then, Cabrera crushed a second-pitch slider for a 2-1 advantage.
Lynch allowed two runs on five hits and one walk with four strikeouts over six innings, throwing 64 of 101 pitches for strikes. He racked up 13 swings and misses on two four-seam fastballs, six changeups, three sliders, one sinker and one curveball.
An early trip to the bullpen
After Vest completed the first inning on 19 pitches, the Tigers turned to left-hander Daniel Norris and righty Garrett Hill to complete the next four innings. Norris needed 21 pitches to record six outs, while Hill needed 43 pitches to do the same.
Both relievers kept the Royals from scoring.
The Tigers' bullpen didn't run into a serious jam until the sixth inning, with right-hander Jose Cisnero on the mound. He allowed a single and two walks, providing a free pass to Nicky Lopez on 10 pitches to load the bases.
Lefty Andrew Chafin entered for a matchup with Melendez. On the first pitch, Melendez grounded out to second baseman Ryan Kreidler for the third out.
Chafin escaped the juiced bases in the sixth, but he faced a similar situation in the seventh. After retiring the first batter, Chafin allowed the next three Royals — Salvador Perez (walk), Vinnie Pasquantino (single) and Edward Olivares (single) — to reach safely. A mound visit from Fetter resulted in back-to-back outs; Chafin struck out Hunter Dozier on three pitches and got Drew Waters to groundout on one pitch.
Righty Alex Lange and lefty closer Gregory Soto pitched the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. In the eighth, Haase and Báez teamed up for the second time in Wednesday's game to catch the same runner — Kyle Isbel — trying to steal second base. They also nabbed him in the second.
Soto has 29 saves this season.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers bullpen make early impact in 2-1 win