After a pair of solid starts that didn't quite have the Matt Manning stamp on them, the right-hander was back to his signature form Tuesday.
Detroit's second-ranked prospect scattered two hits and two walks while matching a career high with 10 strikeouts over 6 2/3 frames as Double-A Erie blanked Hartford, 4-0, at Dunkin' Donuts Park. He took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning before yielding a two-out infield single.
Video: SeaWolves' Manning picks up 10th K
"I didn't even realize," Manning said of his no-no bid. "I was just trying to pitch my game and keep guys off base and out of scoring position. ... I definitely got more comfortable as the game went on. I was able to keep hitters off my heater and just stick to my gameplan."
MLB.com's No. 48 overall prospect was coming off back-to-back outings in which he allowed a combined four runs on 13 hits and three walks while whiffing eight over 11 2/3 frames. Tuesday marked his third start this season of at least 6 2/3 frames without allowing a run and fanning at least nine.
Manning stands atop the Eastern League with 68 punchouts over 54 innings this season. His .168 average against ranks second on the circuit to Binghamton's Anthony Kay (.130) while his 0.83 WHIP is fourth and his 2.17 ERA ranks sixth.
Against the Yard Goats, Manning worked around a one-out, seven-pitch walk to sixth-ranked Rockies prospect Tyler Nevin by retiring the next 16 batters he faced, striking out nine -- including whiffing the side in the second.
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"Early on in the game, I was pulling off of my heater a little bit, so I was focused on that the rest of the outing. Just creating a good angle for it and establishing in and then expanding the zone a little bit after that," he said. "My curveball and changeup progressed as the game went on, and I was able to throw them for strikes and out pitches."
Manuel Melendez recorded the first hit off the 21-year-old, beating out an infield single to the shortstop with two outs in the sixth. A wild pitch moved Melendez into scoring position before Nevin worked another walk. A mound visit followed and Manning escaped the frame on the next pitch when he coaxed No. 82 overall prospect Colton Welker to ground out to second.
"We were playing a bit of a shift more up the middle and [Melendez] hit a soft ground ball to short," the 2016 ninth overall pick said. "[Detroit's No. 4 prospect Isaac Paredes] charged it and made a strong throw. It was a close play, but he just beat it out."
Colorado's 24th-ranked prospect Vince Fernandez laced his 12th double to right field on the first pitch of the seventh before Alan Trejo lined out to left and Arvicent Perez went down looking at a 2-2 heater right down the pipe. Manning exited after throwing 96 pitches, 65 for strikes.
2019 MiLB include
"My focus there was just to make my pitches with a guy in scoring position and not give up a big inning," he said. "Minimize the damage and set my team up for a win."
The California native has not allowed more than two runs in eight of his nine starts this season after pitching at three different levels in the Minors last year. After opening the season with Class A West Michigan and fanning 76 over 55 2/3 innings, Manning was promoted to Class A Advanced Lakeland. With the Flying Tigers, the California native posted a 2.98 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP in nine starts and whiffed 65 over 51 1/3 frames while holding opponents to a .176 average. He finished the year making two starts for the SeaWolves in which he allowed five earned runs on 11 hits and four walks while punching out 13 over 10 1/3 innings.
Right-hander Joe Navilhon completed the shutout for Erie after working around a walk and whiffing three over 2 1/3 hitless frames to notch his first save of the year.
Detroit's No. 14 prospect Sergio Alcantara had a perfect day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a walk and an RBI, while No. 30 Jose Azocar collected two hits and scored twice.