It was nearly a lost season for Detroit right-hander Matt Manning.
Manning missed 3 1/2 months due to right shoulder inflammation and had a couple of setbacks during his recovery. He made his first major league start since the injury on Tuesday.
He will pitch at the Tigers’ home park for the first time since April 11 in the final of a four-game series with Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Manning gave up three runs and five hits in five innings at Minnesota in his return. He struggled with his control, walking four batters, but was still pleased to finally contribute again.
“For the first time back since early in the season, it felt pretty good,” he said. “There’s nothing like playing some big league baseball.”
Catcher Eric Haase believes that with nearly two months remaining, Manning can get plenty out of his remaining starts.
“We’re not making a playoff push right now, but still going out there getting those innings, you’re going to learn,” Haase said. “When things are a little bit better, we’re hoping, then he’ll have that experience and know how to make adjustments in games that really mean something down the stretch.”
Manning, who has no decisions this season and a 3.46 ERA, tossed 85 1/3 innings in 18 starts last season and finished with a 4-7 record and 5.80 ERA.
He threw 78 pitches against the Twins and probably won’t get much past that figure the rest of the way.
“We’re going to be cautious with him just because he’s coming off an injury,” manager AJ Hinch said. “We want him to have success. … We’ll ease him in as he goes. I’ll pay attention to extra rest, or no extra rest. He’s a young pitcher but also still a developing pitcher. We’ll handle him accordingly.”
Drew Rasmussen (6-4, 3.06 ERA) will start for Tampa Bay. Rasmussen was a hard-luck loser in his last outing. He held Toronto to one run and six hits in six innings. That lone run he allowed in the 3-1 loss came in the first inning.
“I thought I got a lot more efficient after that first inning,” Rasmussen said. “Once we committed back to just simplifying and filling up the strike zone, I thought things went pretty well. Gave up some weird hits, and it’s a credit to their lineup. They make you work every time you play them. It’s a good team I thought, though, after we made some in-game adjustments, things rolled pretty well.”
Rasmussen recorded one of his victories over Detroit on May 18. He held them scoreless and struck out seven in five innings.
Tampa Bay won the first two games of this series, but the Tigers responded with a 9-1 victory on Saturday.
Detroit had a rare offensive outburst, leading Rays manager Kevin Cash to preserve his bullpen by allowing infielder Yu Chang to pitch an inning. Jonathan Schoop hit a two-run homer off of him.
Chang hit his second homer of the season for the Rays’ only run.
Harold Castro had three hits, scored two runs and drove in two more for Detroit, and Javier Baez drove in a pair of runs. Jeimer Candelario and Willi Castro each had two hits and scored two runs.