In a late Thursday afternoon tilt, the Detroit Tigers had a chance to sweep the Baltimore Orioles — and to move into a tie for second place in the AL Central after the Cleves got thumped 17-0. They completed the sweep by winning 6-4 on a steamy Thursday afternoon.
Miguel Cabrera will NOT play Thursday against the Orioles in Baltimore. Manager AJ Hinch changed his mind.— Evan Petzold (@EvanPetzold) August 12, 2021
The #Tigers want to protect Cabrera's health and give fans the best chance to witness No. 500 at Comerica Park. (The team plays Friday in Detroit.)
The starting pitching matchup featured Matt Manning for Detroit, and John “Ways And” Means for Baltimore. (Why yes, Dear Reader, it’s been a while since I’ve thought of that, and I felt that now was the perfect time to deploy it.)
Manning’s season has been a bit rough lately, to say the least. In his start in Cleveland last Friday he didn’t make it out of the fourth, giving up all six runs in a Tiger loss. But, since I’m optimistic by nature, a cursory glance at his stats shows he’s only given up 5 home runs in 42 2⁄3 innings coming into today’s start. His fellow rookie pitchers on this year’s squad have all come down with cases of Homeritis, so at least he’s got that going for him. Which is nice.
Means, on the other hand, has been a bright spot on an otherwise lousy Baltimore ball club. Sure, he had the no-hitter in Seattle on May 5, which had a remarkable Game Score of 99 — no hits, no walks, a dozen strikeouts; that’ll do it — but aside from a couple of rough-ish outings against the Rays, he’s been sensational. (That no-hitter’s only runner was a third-strike wild pitch, and he got caught stealing. So there.) However, in recent starts, his fastball’s been down a couple of ticks... which may explain what happened today.
Right off the bat, Manning was giving up a lot of hard contact to the Orioles, with a pair of singles to Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays to lead off the bottom of the first. With two outs and those two fellows on the corners, Hays took off from first base. Manning threw to Short who ran Hays back toward first, obviously keeping an eye on Mullins dancing off third. Mullins timed the play well — and, let’s face it, the Tigers didn’t exactly look like a bunch of Gold Glovers out there — and took off for home, beating the throw from Renato Núñez who was playing first base.
In the third, Manning found himself in another first-and-third situation, this time with only one out, and the dangerous Anthony Santander — who has been hitting home runs all series long — at the plate. But, Manning induced a comebacker for the ol’ 1-6-3 inning-ending double play.
In the top of the fourth, ex-Oriole Jonathan Schoop led off with a walk. Jeimer Candelario then doubled down the left-field line, scoring Schoop to tie the game at 1. Núñez — who hit 31 homers for the O’s in 2019 — poked a fly ball over the wall in the left-field corner for a two-run home run, putting the Tigers ahead 3-1.
Now that’s one way to be welcomed back to Baltimore! pic.twitter.com/tcvFI6jMpk— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) August 12, 2021
After a Willi Castro single, Victor Reyes continued the left-field-corner party, clanking one off the foul pole for yet another 2-run dinger, making it 5-1.
Because Camden’s gonna Camden, the O’s answered right back with a DJ Stewart home run to lead off the bottom of the fourth, narrowing the gap to 5-2. Manning limited the damage, though, setting down the next three batters in order.
Robbie Grossman pushed the lead back up to four runs with a leadoff solo shot of his own in the fifth.
With one out Candelario tripled, ending Means’ day, which was uncharacteristically lousy for him. Marcos Diplán took over, and after Eric Haase walked, Diplán got out of the inning.
Manning looked to be settling down nicely, though, getting a whole bunch of ground ball outs. No, he wasn’t striking out many (only one through five innings), but he was getting the job done, and touching 98 mph on his fastball at times. He was one strike away from getting out of the sixth before Stewart hit another solo home run, then Maikel Franco nearly followed up but ended up bashing a single off the right-field fence. After a visit by Chris Fetter, he struck out Jorge Mateo looking to end the inning, and his day. Manning’s final line: 6 innings, 8 hits (including two home runs by Stewart), no walks, and only two strikeouts.
Kyle Funkhouser came on to pitch the seventh. With one out, Richie Martin walked and Mullins singled for his third hit of the day, bringing the tying run to the plate with runners on the corners. Austin Hays grounded to third; a 5-4-3 double play was attempted but not successful, scoring Martin and making the score 6-4. Trey Mancini grounded out softly to shortstop, though, and the threat was over.
Michael Fulmer pitched the eighth, and he hit Santander to lead off the inning (even though the replay showed it didn’t hit him, and yet the Tigers didn’t challenge the call). The dangerous Stewart fouled out, and Franco grounded into an inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play.
Fulmer was asked to stick around to start the ninth and perhaps earn a six-out save. After getting the leadoff man out, a pair of singles put runners on first and second, and brought the potential winning run, Mullins, to the plate. He hit a ground ball to third, which was hit too softly to turn a double play and leaving runners at the corners with two out. Hays then grounded out to Zack Short at shortstop, who flipped to Castro at second for the force out to end the game, and the series.
The Tigers make the short trip home to start a three-game weekend series against Cleveland on Friday night. For your information, Saturday night’s game is the Fiesta Tigres game, which is always guaranteed to be a good time. Wouldn’t it be something if Miguel Cabrera hit #500 on that night? (Remember, if that does transpire, you heard it here first.)
Old Hoss Is Right, Yet Again
If they play it, will I watch? Ehhh. We’ll see.
TERENCE MANN: If you put a ballpark here people will fork over all of their money because they are so sad and just want to feel something again no matter the cost.— Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn (@OldHossRadbourn) August 11, 2021
ROB MANFRED: I have an idea.
Restin’ the Young Guns
As Brandon pointed out on another page, it works out to about seven days’ rest for each start from here on out, if you factor-in off days. I also assume they’ll be on somewhat short leashes too, and they won’t be allowed to go terribly deep into games. I can live with that.
Casey Mize isn't starting until Tuesday, and A.J. Hinch said today the Tigers plan to pitch Mize, Manning and Skubal on extended rest for the remainder of the season as a means of load management. Tigers want each pitcher to have seven more outings.— Cody Stavenhagen (@CodyStavenhagen) August 12, 2021
Notes and Numbers
- Welcome to the Show, Maple Hammer! You did it! Make Windsor proud, son. He grounded out sharply in his first at-bat, pinch-hitting for Grayson Greiner in the sixth, who tweaked a hamstring.
- Since his recall from Toledo, coming into today’s game, Victor Reyes has played in 16 games; in 40 plate appearances he has batted .289 with an .800 OPS. I know it’s a small sample size, but as the old saying goes, “It’s better than a kick in the pants.”
- June 21 was the day Major League Baseball started officially cracking-down on pitchers using sticky stuff. Miguel Cabrera’s OPS this season before that date: .606. After that date: .862. Look, I’m not saying anything about correlation or causation or whatever. I’m just... noticing things, you know?
- On this day in 1865, surgeon Joseph Lister did something radical at the time: he performed surgery on a compound fracture suffered by an 11-year-old boy in a horse-cart accident (ouch!). The type of surgery wasn’t radical, but the fact that he used a disinfectant to clean the wound, and would later do such crazy things as encourage other surgeons to wash their hands before surgery, sure was for the time. (In case you’re wondering, yes, Listerine was named in honour of Lister. It was originally developed as a surgical antiseptic.)