‘Comfortable’ Manning helps Tigers sweep

Detroit Tigers

BALTIMORE — Tigers rookie Matt Manning believes the improved life on his pitches Thursday is owed to recent hard work he’s put into his mechanics. Manager A.J. Hinch thinks it’s also about a growing comfort level.

Whatever the cause, the end result was an encouraging performance to help the Tigers complete a road sweep of hte Orioles with a 6-4 victory at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

“Me and [pitching coach Chris Fetter] have been working hard on kind of making my delivery more violent, finding where I could get more power from,” Manning said. “I was able to get a couple jumps up today.”

Armed with his best velocity of the year, Manning (3-5) allowed three runs over six innings to post his first win since July 21, one start after he let in six in four innings in a loss at Cleveland on Friday.

In his second consecutive start on six days’ rest, Manning’s sinker averaged 94.6 mph, with his fastest at 97.6 — both season highs.

“His stuff ticked up a little bit as he’s gotten a little more comfortable, and I want to urge all of us to allow him to develop at this level,” Hinch said.

Manning threw 60 of his 83 pitches for strikes while striking out two and allowing eight hits. Only two of those hits produced runs — a pair of solo shots by DJ Stewart — while the O’s also scored when Cedric Mullins swiped home on a first-inning double steal.

Manning’s ability to escape that opening frame without further damage and to start a 1-6-3 double play two innings later gave Hinch that impression of a 23-year-old growing into life in the Majors.

“Him not imploding after things were a little bit unlucky in that first inning is a true sign of maturation,” Hinch said. “We mess up the rundown and they start the runner with two strikes, and it’s easy to implode there and give up a couple more hits after that.”

Former Oriole Renato Núñez drove a two-run homer to left in his second at-bat since returning from Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday. Victor Reyes added a two-run shot off the left-field foul pole that completed a five-run fourth off John Means (5-4), and Robbie Grossman followed with a sixth-inning solo blast for Detroit.

Despite Hinch’s decision to rest Miguel Cabrera on Thursday as he continues his pursuit of his 500th home run, the Tigers moved within three games of .500 (57-60) for the first time since mid-April.

They’re now tied with Cleveland (55-58) for second in the AL Central ahead of the opener of their three-game series in Detroit on Friday.

Back in more ways than one
Núñez finished 2-for-4 in his first game action since returning to the Tigers, adding a late infield single to his 24th career homer at Camden Yards and his third in the Majors this season.

“It feels amazing,” said Núñez, who was recalled from Toledo on Wednesday. “What can I say, man? I feel pumped. I feel nice. Let’s keep it rolling.”

A debut and a prequel
Jacob Robson made his Major League debut in the sixth, when he pinch-hit for catcher Grayson Greiner, grounding out sharply to second base. He remained in the game in left field and finished 0-for-2.

The Tigers purchased Robson’s contract from Triple-A Toledo to add some needed outfield depth after Akil Baddoo, Derek Hill and Niko Goodrum all went on the injured list during this series.

Hinch said Robson will make his first Major League start on Friday. A 2016 eighth-round Draft selection, Robson has played as high as Triple-A since 2018.

“I just feel like now I’m very prepared and very ready,” said the 26-year-old Robson before the game. “I’m not sure I was — I just hadn’t played enough baseball yet — at that time.”

Greiner’s grind
Greiner was removed from his catching duties because he was cramping on a day where temperatures approached 100 degrees in Baltimore.

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