For those who observe Alek Manoah Day, they were able to celebrate for good reason.
The Blue Jays took the first of a three-game series from the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 behind a dominant performance from The Big Man, Alek Manoah. Manoah threw seven and a third innings, allowing only five hits, no runs, one walk, and six strikeouts en route to his 13th win of the season and his 20th quality start. He pitched in front of his college baseball team, the West Virginia Mountaineers, as they made the quick trip up to PNC Park to watch their former teammate do his thing.
Johan Oviedo, who was acquired from the Cardinals at the trade deadline in the Jose Quintana trade, started for the Pirates tonight. Oviedo struck out the side in the first inning, all on his slider. The Blue Jays were able to generate five base runners between the second and third innings, but they did 2022 Blue Jays things with them and ~stranded them all~.
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Fortunately for the Blue Jays, Oviedo was on a pitch count. Who knows if the Blue Jays would’ve had much success off of this guy had he not gotten to 75 pitches so soon.
Tyler Beede took over for Oviedo in the 4th, and he allowed a leadoff double to Matt Chapman, followed by an infield single from Cavan Biggio. This set up the biggest play of the night from the offense, as All-Star second baseman Santiago Espinal delivered with a 2-run double to put Toronto ahead 2-0.
Toronto stranded the bases loaded in the 8th inning, but they added some insurance in the 9th courtesy of Bo Bichette, who launched his 18th home run of the season into the left field seats. It was part of a 3-for-5 night for Bo, whose performance down the stretch could have big implications on Toronto’s shot at playoff baseball.
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The offense didn’t jump off the page considerably, but they got enough done for the aforementioned Manoah to do his ace-like things. Manoah hardly had to sweat at all throughout the night; he retired 12 batters in a row at one point. He allowed a leadoff double to former Blue Jays Silver Slugger candidate Tyler Heineman in the 3rd inning, but that was quickly erased as he was thrown out at third trying to advance on a ball in the dirt that got away from Alejandro Kirk.
The Pirates also put runners on the corners with two outs in the 7th, but Michael Chavis grounded out to the surehanded Chapman at third base to end the threat. The only thing as important as Manoah’s performance was that he was able to save a lot of the bullpen arms from being used tonight, as this night –  on top of an off day yesterday – makes for a well-rested bullpen.
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The second game of the series may have a little twist to it in regards to the pitching, as recent September call-up Casey Lawrence has been rumored to get the start tomorrow, with Yusei Kikuchi as a piggyback long reliever. If there has ever been an opportunity for Kikuchi to show his value, it would definitely be tomorrow against the inferior Pirates. Roansy Contreras is the listed starter for Pittsburgh, and his numbers are halfway decent through twelve starts this year. Contreras owns a 3.57 ERA with an 8.6 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.
To finish this off with an emotional side note, Buck Martinez (play-by-play) and Pat Tabler (color) served as the broadcasters for tonight’s game. During the 7th inning stretch, a lot of fans held up their “I Stand For ____” signs for the Stand Up For Cancer movement. Martinez and Tabler participated as well, and Tabler’s sign read “I Stand For Buck and Jamie [Campbell].”
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