As Detroit’s top pitching prospect made the walk from the mound to the dugout in the sixth inning, with his home debut and second big league start complete, he received a standing ovation from the crowd. Among the fans on their feet were Manning’s parents, who were positioned behind the Tigers’ dugout.
Manning kept a straight face, his eyes focused on the dugout steps and his waiting teammates, but the significance of the moment was apparent. Mize and Skubal talked last year about missing out on families, friends and crowds for their debuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the Tigers held down the fort for a 6-2 win over the Cardinals, Manning’s memorable day was complete with his first Major League victory.
Six days after Manning made his Major League debut as the undercard opposite Shohei Ohtani at Angel Stadium, the 23-year-old right-hander was the feature attraction in Detroit. He wasn’t dominant — his lone strikeout over 5 2/3 innings was against longtime friend and fellow Sacramento, Calif., native Dylan Carlson — but he was effective.
Both Cardinals runs off Manning were well-earned. His second-inning breaking ball to Nolan Arenado was below the strike zone when the All-Star third baseman golfed it out to left for his 249th career home run, and Manning’s first allowed.
An inning later, Cardinals rookie Lars Nootbaar beat the Tigers’ outfield alignment for a triple to the depths of center field as Daz Cameron ran it down. Tommy Edman drove him in with a ground-ball single through the middle for a 2-0 St. Louis lead.
Manning allowed just two more hits the rest of the way, leaving after a two-out walk to Yadier Molina to put the potential tying run on base in the sixth. By then, the Tigers had rallied to take the lead, courtesy of a Jonathan Schoop two-run double and solo homer, along with a Cameron home run.