The Detroit Tigers have drawn big crowds this week in anticipation of Miguel Cabrera’s 500th career home run. They have instead been dazzled by the favorite for the American League Most Valuable Player award.
Shohei Ohtani reached base four times in Tuesday’s series opener, then did damage on both the mound and at the plate in Los Angeles’ 3-1 victory on Wednesday. He dominated Tigers hitters for eight innings and blasted his major league leading 40th homer.
Ohtani, who heard some chants of ‘MVP!, MVP!’ in a visiting ballpark, could make more noise as a batter in Thursday’s matinee.
“He’s an incredible, special talent,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “We got to witness it unfortunately at the expense of us. … He clearly was in charge of the game tonight. You take the competition away and the agony of losing, it’s just incredible to see what he’s doing.”
Cabrera, who hit his 499th homer in Baltimore last week, will try once again to make history in the finale of a six-game homestand. He went 1-for-4 on Wednesday.
Matt Manning (3-5, 6.10 ERA) will start on Thursday for the Tigers. The rookie right-hander recorded his third career victory last Thursday in Baltimore while allowing three runs on eight hits in six innings. He bounced back from a four-inning stint in Cleveland on Aug. 6 when he surrendered six runs on 10 hits.
The most encouraging part of his latest start is that his fastball velocity reached new heights. It got as high as 97.6 mph, and he averaged a season-best 94.5 mph.
“Me and (pitching coach Chris) Fetter have been working hard on making my delivery a little more violent, just trying to find out where I can get more power from,” Manning said. “We put a lot of work into improving it, and we got a couple of jumps up (Thursday).”
He still didn’t overwhelm hitters with his heat. He only recorded two strikeouts and hasn’t fanned more than four in any of his 10 starts.
Manning made his career debut against the Angels on June 17, allowing two runs on four hits in five innings.
Left-hander Patrick Sandoval (3-6, 3.62 ERA) was originally scheduled to pitch for Los Angeles on Thursday. However, manager Joe Maddon announced on Wednesday that Sandoval could miss the remainder of the season due to a back injury.
“It’s a lower back issue that started bothering him after his last start,” Maddon said. “And because of that, some testing was done, and we have to shut him down for now. That’s what I know. It really came out of nowhere for us. It’s an unusual injury, so we’re still trying to collect information.”
Jose Quintana will get the nod in place of Sandoval. Quintana (0-3, 6.12 ERA) made nine starts in the first two months of the season but has come out of the bullpen in his last 13 appearances. He’ll be seeking his first win since 2019.
“For the most part, he’s done really well,” Maddon said “This guy’s workout routine is among the best I’ve ever seen, so he’s physically ready to do it. It’s something he wanted to do again. So all those factors are in place. He’s earned this opportunity.”
–Field Level Media