Manning falters vs. A's: 'They made me pay'

September 2nd, 2021

DETROIT -- threw his glove down the dugout steps to the Tigers' clubhouse on his way out of his Thursday start with an eight-run deficit, his second glove toss of the day. Little could he know that same dugout would be staring at a potential tie game in the ninth.

As 's drive off A's closer Sergio Romo screamed towards the right-field corner, even manager A.J. Hinch -- usually with the best angle of anyone down the line -- had to pause.

"I saw it hooking a little bit, had a perfect angle at it and thought [the wind] was going to hold it," Hinch said after the 8-6 loss to the A's. "It held it far enough for me to get a little bit excited that we might have tied the game. Then it was clearly foul.

"Great at-bat by Jeimer. We had some really, really good at-bats when we were down, which is a [sign of] maturity in a team that I really appreciate."

Though Candelario, who hit a three-run homer in the seventh, eventually flied out to deep left against Romo, and the Tigers ultimately dropped the rubber match of their three-game series at Comerica Park, they turned what was an 8-0 game in the fifth into a game that had the potential tying run at the plate in each of the last three innings. What looked like a possible game for to pitch the ninth inning instead had Castro stepping to the plate in the seventh as the potential tying run.

Castro, whose 447-foot home run to the center-field shrubs started the comeback in the fifth inning, gave an Andrew Chafin slider a drive to deep left in the seventh, sending A's left fielder Tony Kemp to ground to make a sliding catch. Castro was on deck in the ninth when grounded out to end the game.

"It's not good to lose," Candelario said, "but the good thing that we did today, we fight together. We fight back and we never give up."

Still, the close call did little to dampen Manning's frustration. If anything, it might have left him to wonder what the Tigers could've done with a more effective start from him.

As Manning headed back to the dugout bench following a 32-pitch, four-run first inning that included back-to-back home runs, he flung his glove at the dugout wall, clearly irritated at an inning that got away from him with two outs. He had an 0-2 count on Matt Chapman but threw his next five pitches out of the strike zone, one of which Chapman fouled off to extend the at-bat for ball four before Jed Lowrie's three-run homer and Mark Canha's solo shot put Oakland in command.

Manning stayed in the game to work through his struggles. But after back-to-back two-out singles in the fourth inning threatened to extend a seven-run lead, Hinch pulled Manning at 80 pitches.

"We were down 7-0 before our eight-hole hitter hit," Hinch said. "That's the hole we were trying to climb out of today."

Manning did put his glove to more productive use, snaring a Lowrie line drive just to his left. But far more often, the A's left Manning turning to watch where their drives landed.

"No one likes to really get beat up like that," Manning said. "We're trying to expect zeros and keep our team in the game, and it's frustrating."

It's an understandable emotion, one that Manning has shown at other times in his rookie season, throwing his glove at the dugout wall in Cleveland after a four-run third inning. On Thursday, however, the A's flustered him pretty much all afternoon. When they weren't punishing his pitches over the plate, they were fouling off pitches he thought might garner some badly needed swings and misses. Josh Harrison fouled off seven consecutive pitches ahead of his second-inning flyout, leaving Manning visibly frustrated.

"It's a very veteran lineup, and they know what they're doing," Manning said. "They're a really good team and they made me pay in those situations. I think we had a game plan going into it and getting into those situations, I may have put a little too much pressure on myself to get the job done rather than just attacking and letting my ball play."

Oakland swung and missed at just three Manning pitches all afternoon, but it fouled off 23 others. His slider drew five called strikes but only one whiff.

Manning is slated to start next week in Pittsburgh, which should be an opportunity for him to rebound. Still, the stretch sums up a rookie season in which the former first-round pick and top prospect is trying to turn flashes of potential into more consistency.