Detroit Tigers' Matt Manning falls apart in third inning of 9-3 loss to Mariners

The Detroit Tigers expected a pitching duel in Tuesday's series opener against the Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park.

Instead, the result was lopsided.

Right-hander Matt Manning, dominant in his past five starts, allowed seven runs and couldn't escape the third inning in the Tigers' 9-3 loss. Right-hander George Kirby, meanwhile, fired five scoreless innings for the Mariners.

The Tigers (50-79) finished with seven hits, one walk and eight strikeouts.

Detroit scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth on Riley Greene's RBI triple to the gap in right-center field and Zack Short's sacrifice fly. For the third run, Kerry Carpenter tripled in the ninth and scored on Jeimer Candelario's single.

Tigers pitcher Matt Manning, second from left, is visited by pitching coach Chris Fetter, left, along with catcher Tucker Barnhart and first baseman Harold Castro during the third inning on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, at Comerica Park.
Tigers pitcher Matt Manning, second from left, is visited by pitching coach Chris Fetter, left, along with catcher Tucker Barnhart and first baseman Harold Castro during the third inning on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, at Comerica Park.

Manning entered Tuesday with a 2.70 ERA in five starts since returning from the injured list in early August. Facing the Mariners, though, he allowed seven runs on seven hits and one walk with one strikeout in 2⅓ innings.

His slider, which has been his best pitch recently, was ineffective.

The Mariners averaged a 100 mph exit velocity on the six sliders they put in play. In the second inning, Ty France hammered a first-pitch slider with a 107.3 mph exit velocity for a 438-foot solo home run.

In the third, Cal Raleigh launched a solo home run on Manning's 0-2 slider for a 2-0 lead. The next two batters, Abraham Toro (single) and Julio Rodriguez (double), reached safely to put two runners in scoring position.

France, Raleigh and Rodriguez pummeled Manning's slider. All three sliders ended up around the middle of the strike zone and forced Manning to make an in-game adjustment. He turned to his curveball, but that pitch didn't stand a chance.

Mitch Haniger and Eugenio Suarez delivered RBI singles on back-to-back curveballs, increasing the Mariners' lead to 4-0 with one out in the third inning. Then, France hit another slider for an RBI single and a 5-0 advantage. An ensuing four-pitch walk to Carlos Santana loaded the bases and ended Manning's outing.

But the Mariners didn't let up.

Facing right-handed reliever Will Vest, the Mariners added a pair of runs on Adam Frazier's RBI single and Raleigh's sacrifice fly. Toro struck out looking on a full-count slider at the top of the strike zone for the third out.

For Manning's 67 pitches (40 strikes), the 24-year-old threw 33 four-seam fastballs (49%), 19 sliders (28%), eight curveballs (12%), four sinkers (6%) and three changeups (4%). He recorded two whiffs — one four-seamer, one slider — on 32 swings.

Too little, too late for offense

The Tigers came closest to scoring against Kirby in the fifth inning.

Mariners pitcher George Kirby throws a pitch in the first inning on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, at Comerica Park.
Mariners pitcher George Kirby throws a pitch in the first inning on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, at Comerica Park.

Miguel Cabrera opened the inning by crushing a two-strike sinker off the top of the wall in the left-field corner for his 10th double of the year. Candelario reached on a fielding error, and Tucker Barnhart trotted to first base after a four-pitch walk.

Just like that, the Tigers had the bases loaded with one out.

Castro popped out to third base and Greene flied out to center field.

Kirby, who tossed 56 of 79 pitches for strikes, gave up two hits and one walk with five strikeouts over five scoreless innings. Cabrera recorded both hits, a single in the second and a double in the fifth.

He didn't produce many swings and misses — only six, all four-seam fastballs — but landed all five of his pitches for called strikes.

Mop-up duty

Left-handed reliever Daniel Norris provided the Tigers with much-needed length out of the bullpen after Manning's early exit. He completed three innings — fifth, sixth and seventh — but not before giving up damage in the fifth.

France collected a leadoff single and Santana drove him in with a two-run home run for a 9-0 lead. Santana, in a 2-1 count, blasted Norris' elevated four-seam fastball over the wall in left-center field.

Mariners designated hitter Carlos Santana, right, celebrates his two-run home run with first baseman Ty France in the fifth inning on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, at Comerica Park.
Mariners designated hitter Carlos Santana, right, celebrates his two-run home run with first baseman Ty France in the fifth inning on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, at Comerica Park.

Norris retired the next six batters and worked around a leadoff single in the seventh to finish his 50-pitch relief appearance on a high note. Right-hander Jason Foley pitched the eighth. Position player Kody Clemens — making his fourth appearance this season — retired three straight in the ninth on eight pitches.

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold

Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers' Matt Manning falls apart in third of 9-3 loss to M's