The Detroit Tigers came through on Sweet Lou Whitaker’s special day with a convincing 9-1 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Rays. Garrett Hill played with fire over 5 2⁄3 frames but managed to surrender just a single run — a solo home run — in an outing reminiscent of his solid major league debut, while the offense showed up against one of the best starting pitchers in the game right now. It was a sight to behold as the only franchise that the should-be Hall of Famer played for honored one of its greats in front of a packed Comerica Park crowd.
The question now is whether the home team can ride that momentum to another victory and earn a weekend series split with the Sunshine State boys. The Tigers send out a once-heralded prospect pitcher who has struggled with his performance as well as injuries to the mound to face yet another Rays hurler who has put up solid numbers this season. Take a look below at how Sunday’s matinee affair looks to play out.
Detroit Tigers (43-66) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (57-50)
Time/Place: 1:40 p.m., Comerica Park
SB Nation Site: DRaysBay
Media: Bally Sports Detroit, MLB.TV, Tigers Radio Network
Pitching Matchup: RHP Matt Manning (0-0, 3.46 ERA) vs. RHP Drew Rasmussen (6-4, 3.06 ERA)
Game 110 Pitching Matchup
Matt Manning was knocked out of action early this season with right shoulder and biceps issues, shelving him for four months before he returned to action on August 2 against the Minnesota Twins. The 24-year-old surrendered three runs over five frames on five hits and four walks including a home run while striking out one in a game that the Tigers ultimately won, 5-3, for their first victory in the month of August.
The young right-hander had not seen much action prior to his IL stint, throwing six innings of one-run ball in his season debut against the Boston Red Sox, allowing just one hit — a solo dinger surrendered to JD Martinez — while striking out two and walking none to help lead the team to victory in what was probably his best MLB performance. His next outing is when things went wrong, as he made it through just two innings before getting pulled due to obvious upper-body discomfort. Up to that point, he had only allowed one Kansas City Royals runner to cross home plate but had given up five hits already — but no walks, at least.
Drew Rasmussen is now in his third big league season and second franchise having come over from the Milwaukee Brewers in the Wily Adames trade back on May 21, 2021. Since then, the former sixth-round pick out of Oregon State has performed well in Tampa Bay, putting up a 2.44 ERA, 2.86 FIP and 0.97 WHIP over the second half of his 2021 campaign before embarking on another quality season this summer.
Speaking of this summer, the 27-year-old faced the Tigers once before on May 18 when he threw five frames of shutout ball, allowing four hits and no walks while striking out seven to earn the win. That five-inning mark is pretty much his average outing length, with just four of his 18 starts going longer and a majority landing right on that number.
Key Matchup: Manning vs. effectiveness
We have yet to see the level of play we all expected from Matt Manning when he was dominating the minors as his skill set has simply not translated to the big league level. Keep in mind, the right-hander was drafted directly out of high school and is still tender 24 years old, so there is no need to throw the towel in on him just yet. Plus coming off a long stint on the injured list will leave some rust to shake off as well — even with MiLB rehab appearances — so it will be important that the Tigers’ former first-round pick establishes a groove to settle into that will help him finish off the season in style.