When the Detroit Tigers entered the ninth inning on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, manager AJ Hinch hoped closer Gregory Soto would shut things down in the top of the frame and the Tigers would pick up a walk-off victory in the bottom.
Unfortunately, that is not at all what happened, as Soto was absolutely horrendous, and the Tigers ended up losing to the Rays by a score of 7-0.
Following the game, Hinch spoke to reporters, and he was at a loss for what happened with Soto in the ninth.
“I’ve had him on both sides,” he said. “He’s escaped so many of them you always think he’s one-pitch away, and he literally was … But there are no alarm bells, no exact reason why it happens.
“But it frustrates everyone, including Gregory.”
“There were two outs and a runner at first,” Hinch said. “You feel like you are still in command of everything. Even after a soft double (by Francisco Mejia), you are still control.
“It looked like Soto just lost his command of everything. It was a disappointing ending but it doesn’t tell the whole story of the day.”
AJ Hinch raves about Matt Manning’s performance
The worst part about the loss was that the Tigers wasted a great start from Matt Manning, who went seven innings without allowing a single run.
“This was as complete an arsenal as he’s shown in recent memory, for sure,” Hinch said. “I’m sure he’s had more powerful stuff last year at the end, but I thought he was excellent.”
“I think today I took it real personal to give the bullpen a break,” Manning said. “They’ve been working their (butts) off. It stinks (today), but they’ve been working really hard.”
“To protect him, I could’ve taken him out after six,” Hinch said. “But I’m walking that line of challenging him to go deeper in games. Also, he was in complete control of the at-bats and the innings. And he just went out there and cruised through the seventh.
“Given the way the industry is, it’s nice to have a starting pitcher go seven innings and escape without having to answer questions about why I didn’t take him out after 85 pitches.”