Look we’re trying not to get cocky here, but the Detroit Tigers are injecting a bit of giddiness into the proceedings these days. Rookie starter Matt Manning put together a fine start, the Tigers got homers from Robbie Grossman, Zack Short, and Akil Baddoo, and once again the bullpen locked it down—with a bit of self-inflicted drama in the ninth—to stretch their winning streak to six games with a 4-2 win over the Rangers on Wednesday night.
Manning started his first start since July 9 with a quick first inning, erasing a one out walk with a slider down to get leading non-Baddoo Rookie of the Year candidate, Adolis Garcia, bouncing into a double play. And as he has regularly, Robbie Grossman keyed the offense with a solo shot to right field in the bottom half of the frame.
The Rangers got one back in the top of the second. Joey Gallo singled up the middle on a first pitch fastball, and John Hicks followed by ambushing a hanging curveball for a double to plate the run. Manning was calm as usual though, retiring the next three in order on six pitches.
His teammates picked him right up in the bottom of the inning. Harold Castro sprayed a one out single to center field and Zack Short turned and yanked an 0-1 slider from Jordan Lyles out to left for a two run shot to make it 3-1. The Tigers never looked back.
Manning started dialing in after allowing that first run to the Rangers. He mixed in plenty of sliders and changeups, and the Rangers could not barrel anything up. The big right hander also helped himself out with several nice fielding plays on the night. He caught a popped up bunt from Eli White in the second inning, flew over to first to cover on a Nick Solak ground out to first baseman Jonathan Schoop in the third, and then snagged a line drive from Brock Holt for the next out in the third inning.
Manning lost his release point briefly in the fourth, walking the dangerous Adolis Garcia to open the fourth inning. Joey Gallo flew out to Akil Baddoo in left, but catcher Grayson Greiner had a fastball clang off his glove for a passed ball to move Garcia to second. Manning punched out John Hicks, but David Dahl ambushed a first pitch fastball for a double to right to score Garcia. Manning responded by punching out Eli White to end the inning, and by that point, the command was getting much sharper. Manning would allow a single and no more, collecting two more strikeouts to finish his outing in fine form with a line of 6.0 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 SO, throwing 50 of 77 pitches for strikes.
Akil Baddoo also rebutted Garcia’s ROY argument with a 410 foot solo shot over the out of town scoreboard in the fifth to open the lead to 4-2.
From there, the vaunted—seriously my confidence in this bullpen makes me uneasy if that makes any sense—Tigers bullpen took over. Joe Jiménez and Jose Cisnero had no troubles in the seventh and eighth, but the ninth did not go so smoothly.
Gregory Soto got Joey Gallo to pop out to start the frame, and while John Hicks managed to crunch a hanging slider 415 feet to center, Derek Hill raced back and was waiting for it at the warning track. The last out did not come easily. Andy Ibanez “singled” to right on a pop fly down the line that Schoop and Grossman watched drop between them, and then stole second base. Soto buried a slider into Eli White’s foot to put two men on. He then dropped the ball after planting his foot on the rubber, balking the runners to second and third. Blood pressure rising. Gnashing and wailing. And…ultimately he got Charlie Culberson to ground out to shortstop, and that was that.
The Tigers are now 36-27 since May 7th. They are undefeated since the break, and they will look to sweep the Rangers out of Comerica on Thursday.