Tigers escape 9th inning threat to win sixth straight

Chris McCosky, The Detroit News on

Published in Baseball

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.


WIth two outs, Soto gave up a bloop single and hit a batter. Then he put both runners in scoring position with a balk. But, he regrouped and got Charlie Culberson to ground out to secure his 10th save.

The Tigers had the home run balls flying again.

Robbie Grossman, as he did Tuesday night, put the Tigers on the board first with a solo home run in the first inning. After taking a close 1-2 change-up for a ball and fouling off a slider from Rangers starter Jordan Lyles, he hammered a 2-2 curveball, sending it 400 feet into the seats in right-center.

It was his 15th home run of the season and extended his on-base streak to 20 games.

In the second, with Harold Castro on first, shortstop Zack Short got a spinning slider and hooked it inside the left-field foul pole, his fourth home run putting the Tigers up 3-1.

Rookie Akil Baddoo hoisted his eighth home run of the season in the fifth. Lyles had struck him out with a two-seam fastball in the third. In the fifth, he took a close two-seamer to run the count to 3-1 and then slammed a four-seamer, sending it over the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center.

The Tigers’ bid for a fifth run was thwarted by a strong throw by left fielder Dahl in the sixth inning. Candelario doubled with two outs and Castro lined a single to left. The throw and Candelario reached the plate just about the same time, with Hicks making a quick catch and swipe to nail him.

Castro, with two more hits, is 17 for his last 33 at-bats.

Also, with an infield single in the eighth, Jonathan Schoop collected his 900th career hit.

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