'Just a bad day': Tigers' Manning roughed up for 9 runs in 13-5 loss at Cleveland
Cleveland — It was already a rough night for Tigers rookie Matt Manning. Somehow, though, if he could’ve gotten the last out in the fourth inning, he might’ve salvaged something positive.
Didn’t happen. The fourth inning devolved quickly, too quickly. He was nearing his pitch ceiling for the night and the only thing standing between him leaving the game with a reachable four-run deficit was Indians slugger Jose Ramirez.
Lefty Miguel Del Pozo was warm in the bullpen, but turning the switch-hitting Ramirez to the right side of the batter's box is rarely a good idea. So, it was up to Manning to soldier on.
His first pitch to Ramirez, a 93-mph wheelhouse fastball, ended up deep in the right-field seats and Manning’s night was irredeemably ruined.
"I tried to go up and in and I left it over the plate," Manning said. "It went bye."
Manning’s line, as the Indians took the first of a three-game series, 13-5, at Progressive Field Monday, is exaggerated, but it accurately reflects how hard he was hit. He gave up nine runs on nine hits (two home runs) in 3.2 innings, with just two strikeouts and three swings-and-misses.
"He's a growing pitcher and he's going to have to learn and develop," manager AJ Hinch said. "He has all the weapons to do it, but it's a maturation process at this level."
Some of the predictive metrics indicated that Manning, based on his two previous starts, had this coming. The average exit velocity on balls put in play against him was 93 mph and a hard-hit rate of 43%.
Per Statcast, the expected wOBA (weighted on-base average) was .365 and expected slugging was .486. Yet, he’d only given up four runs in 10.2 innings.
Manning faced 21 hitters Monday and 16 of them put balls in play with 90-mph exit velocity or better. Average exit velocity: 93 mph.
"He attacked but they were pretty comfortable up there," catcher Jake Rogers said. "I don't think we pitched enough inside. When we tried to go in it leaked over the plate, or vice versa. I thought he threw with conviction but he just had an off night."
Amed Rosario had three hits and scored twice off him. Cesar Hernandez doubled, singled, scored twice and knocked in a run. Manning missed the target that catcher Jake Rogers set for him by the width of the plate in the second inning on a 93-mph fastball to Austin Hedges: two-run home run.
Ramirez, who hit Manning's 75th and last pitch into the seats, ended up a triple short of a cycle and with five RBIs.
"I need to use my breaking ball and change-up more often and in different counts and not be so predictable," Manning said. "Then try to expand the zone when I get ahead in the count. And not leave balls in the middle."
Pitching inside to hitters is a battle for him right now. Either he goes too far in (he hit Ernie Clement) or the ball leaves back to the middle (Ramirez's homer).
"That's something I picked up on in my last couple of starts in Toledo," Manning said of working inside on hitters. "I'm still working on it."
The Indians ended up with a season-high 19 hits.
"The big leagues are hard if you don't execute," Hinch said. "They put the ball in play hard and delivered some big blows. We didn't get into the game. We didn't keep them off the scoreboard. Just a bad day on the mound."
As for lessons, there are none better than getting knocked around for three-plus innings.
"The lessons are out on the field," Hinch said. "The bad taste is going to be left in his mouth. It'll be key for him to get back to work and come back and execute from the beginning of the game."
Miguel Cabrera did some chart climbing on this night. He drove a breaking ball from Indians starter Eli Morgan into the right-center field seats, leading off the second inning. It was his sixth home run of the season and No. 493 in his career.
He’s now tied with Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff for 21st on the all-time home run list.
Cabrera also doubled and scored on a single by Jeimer Candelario in the fourth.
Rogers lit into a hanging slider from Morgan in the fifth and belted a two-run homer to left. It was hit fourth of the season.
Robbie Grossman, who was in a 2 for 35 funk, lined his 10th home run of the season in the eighth.