Detroit — The winning hit for the Detroit Tigers on Friday night was all about making the most of opportunities.
Victor Reyes, pinch-hitting for Zack Short leading off the bottom of the eighth inning, hit a sinking liner that Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Josh Palacios charged and dove for in an attempt to snare just off the grass.
But he missed it completely and it rolled.
Reyes has good speed and a triple was a certainty. But Detroit third base coach Ramon Santiago saw a lack of crispness in the relay throws, and waved Reyes home at the last instant.
Reyes made it with a bit to spare, sliding head first and getting the plate with his hand.
That made the Tigers 2-1 winners on a night when rookie starter Matt Manning continued his ascent as a formidable pitcher, and Miguel Cabrera got a big hit after receiving a touching pre-game tribute for his 500th homer.
Manning faced one of the game’s most powerful lineups — with its 1-2-3-4 hitters having between 20 and 36 homers apiece — and allowed just one run over six innings.
He pitched tough in this one.
Manning got out of a two-on, nobody-out jam in the second inning by getting the final out on a called third strike against Reese McGuire. He also limited the damage after Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., doubled for one run in the third.
Cabrera got the tying single in the fourth inning, scoring Jeimer Candelario after he’d hit a ground-ruled double to center.
BOX SCORE: Tigers 2, Blue Jays 1
Cabrera was given a pre-game scoreboard tribute to acknowledge the historic 500th homer he hit Sunday, Aug. 22, at Toronto.
The highlight was having his wife, Roseangel; son, Christopher; and daughter, Isabella, turn over the three numbers on the “Miggy Milestones” countdown above the outfield brick wall to reveal “500” before the homer he hit Tuesday in St. Louis to make it “501” was recognized in the math conversion.
Cabrera walked out of the dugout during the standing ovation to acknowledge the Comerica Park fans with a wave of his right hand while holding his bat in his left hand.
It was a nice moment.
Prior to the game, Cabrera, seated in the dugout before batting practice, joked with two stadium workers, saying, “Paint the 5,” in reference to replacing the “4” in “499” on display next to the hits total now at 2,959.
Gregory Soto came on to record the save in the ninth after Reyes put Detroit in a position to win, and he got a good running catch in left by Robbie Grossman and a solid play by third baseman Candelario coming up clean with a hard-hit grounder down the line before throwing to first.