Detroit — It didn’t take long for the playoff-contending team to distinguish itself from the team playing out the string.
The Seattle Mariners, who entered the game Tuesday a half-game out of a wild card spot, scored six times in the third inning and cruised to a 9-3 win over the Tigers before a sparse gathering (announced 12,536) at Comerica Park.
Tigers right-hander Matt Manning, coming off two impressive starts, got an early shower in this one, lasting 2⅓ innings. Seven runs were charged to his tab.
“He wasn’t sharp,” manager AJ Hinch said. “He didn’t have fastball command. He didn’t have the slider he’s had in recent starts. Just a bad night for him. It felt like he was off from the get-go.”
BOX SCORE: Mariners 9, Tigers 3
Manning’s slider, which has been a difference-maker for him since coming off the injured list, was both well-scouted by the Mariners and poorly executed by him — a bad combination.
“I don’t think the shape was as consistent as it usually is,” Manning said. “I wasn’t getting enough movement on it — just leaving it over the plate too much.”
Manning yanked one over the inner half of the plate to right-handed hitting Ty France and he drove it 438 feet into the center-field shrubs in the second inning. Then Cal Raleigh got a center-cut slider on an 0-2 pitch in the third.
That one didn’t stay in the yard, either.
They were the first two homers allowed by Manning off his slider since he altered the shape of the pitch while he was rehabbing from his shoulder injury.
The Mariners would bang out five more hits before Manning departed. They ended up putting six sliders in play with an average exit velocity of 100 mph. He recorded one out with the pitch.
“Just one of those nights,” Manning said. “The slider got a little flat. It’s not that they were bad sliders by no means. They just caught too much of the plate.”
Manning said it felt like the Mariners’ plan was to attack the breaking ball.
“If I would’ve commanded the fastball a little better inside I could’ve gotten away with some stuff,” he said. “In my opinion, they were sitting on spin and reacting to the fastball.
“Just caught a good team on a good day. They’re a good-hitting team and I have to be able to pitch well against teams like that if I’m going to be the pitcher I want to be.”
Lefty Daniel Norris ate up three innings for the Tigers and made just one serious mistake. He put a 90-mph fastball in the happy zone of Mariners designated hitter Carlos Santana. Norris never turned to follow the flight of the ball. He knew immediately.
Santana sent it 434 feet well beyond the Tigers’ bullpen in left.
Norris, pitching through some soreness in his groin, allowed just two other singles in his three innings of work.
The Tigers, coming off a stretch where they scored at least six runs in four straight games, got nothing going against Mariners rookie right-hander George Kirby. In his five innings of work, only one Tigers hitter nicked him.
Miguel Cabrera singled in the second inning and led off the fifth with a double off the wall in right field. It was Cabrera’s first extra-base hit since July 26.
That and a walk by Tucker Barnhart was the extent of the Tigers’ offense against Kirby.
“He’s really good, a really good young arm,” Hinch said. “He got into attack mode and threw a ton of strikes. We just couldn’t get the ball off the ground. I think 10 of the first 12 outs were ground balls or punch-outs. He did a good job of controlling contact and missing bats.
“He had good stuff across the board.”
It was Kirby’s ninth straight start allowing three runs or less. He’s allowed just 12 earned runs with 58 strikeouts and just seven walks in 49⅔ innings. The Mariners are 7-2 in those nine starts.
The Tigers didn’t counter until the bottom of the eighth. Riley Greene drove a triple 414 feet into the gap in right-center off reliever Chris Flexen, scoring Willi Castro from first base.
Greene scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Zack Short.
Rookie Kerry Carpenter, who was hitless in the first 22 at-bats in his young career at Comerica Park, singled in the seventh and then tripled and scored on a Jeimer Candelario single in the ninth.
“It wasn’t weighing on me or anything like that,” Carpenter said. “It was just nice to feel like I’ve felt on the road, just in my approach and seeing the ball. It was nice to see that transfer over after the off day.”
Infielder Kody Clemens pitched the ninth for the Tigers, a clean 1-2-3 inning.