DETROIT – Understandably, manager AJ Hinch and pitching coach Chris Fetter are trying to keep things uncluttered for rookie Matt Manning as he takes his first spin through big-league lineups. Keep things as simple as they can and just let him compete.
“I don’t really care about the (pitch) mix,” Hinch said before the game. “Everybody gets caught up in pitch mix. I want outs. I don’t care if he throws all fastballs if he gets all outs. I think we’re getting a little too cute having to demand that a certain percentage of pitches be used. As long as he’s getting outs with the fastball, great, with the off-speed, great.
“At this level you have to be adaptable to pitch. I don’t want that on the forefront of his mind.”
Manning, making his sixth big league start and his first since July 9, was not only adaptable, he was effective and efficient. He pitched six solid innings helping the Tigers beat the Texas Rangers 4-2 and win their season-high sixth game.
It was the eighth straight loss for the Rangers.
Former Tiger John Hicks got him in the second inning, driving a 1-2 hanging curveball into the left-center gap for an RBI double. In the fourth, he got himself in trouble with a leadoff walk. After a passed ball, David Dahl ambushed a first-pitch change-up and ripped an RBI double into the corner in right field.
But that was it. Two runs, only one earned run, and four hits. Quality start. He needed just 77 pitches to get through his six innings.
Velocity is another thing Hinch doesn’t want Manning thinking about when he’s on the mound. His fastball didn’t approach the upper-90s heat that was his calling card as he climbed through the Tigers’ system. His four-seamer averaged 92.7 mph.
But he got the Rangers out with it. Three of his four strikeouts came off it, including an impressive punch-out of Joey Gallo in the sixth. He started him with two sliders, got him to foul off a 92-mph heater for strike two and then threw a 94-mph fastball by him.
Manning gave way to the Tigers bullpen. On Tuesday, Kyle Funkhouser, Jose Cisnero and Gregory Soto got the final nine outs in a row. On Wednesday, it was Joe Jimenez, Cisnero and Soto -- it wasn't nine straight outs. In fact, it got a little dicey in the top of the ninth.