After the Orioles beat the Blue Jays last night, the Sportsnet cameras panned to Alek Manoah sitting in the Blue Jays dugout right after the game. He was staring at the Orioles, watching them celebrate a win. One could only imagine that Manoah was plotting how much he wanted to dominate the Orioles for his start against them on Wednesday night.
Manoah delivered, as he pitched eight innings, only allowing three hits, one run, one walk, and five strikeouts. He allowed the one run in the first inning, but he was almost flawless after that. Manoah retired 14 batters in a row after the Ryan Mountcastle RBI, and he only gave up one hit between innings 2 through 8.
Manoah was the perfect candidate to pitch tonight’s game, after last night featured several dramatic events and the Blue Jays needing a rebound win. He earned his team-leading 14th win of the season, and lowered his ERA to 2.42.
The defense behind him was good as well, including a spectacular play in the bottom of the 3rd by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Adley Rutschman grounded to Guerrero at first, but it threw him off the bag enough for Manoah to cover him at first base. Guerrero flipped the ball behind his back to Manoah at first to complete the out with ease, leading Manoah to shout “That was f*****g sick” at Vladdy after the play. It’s a bigger story for a different day, but Guerrero is putting together a Gold Glove season at first base, and that play is a small sample.
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Manoah’s performance was undoubtedly the highlight of the game, as the offense didn’t provide many highlight-worthy plays. In fact, their first two runs were both cashed in by way of an RBI groundout. One of the those came in the 2nd inning, where Toronto was only able to cash in one run after having the bases loaded with no one out.
The Jays would finally bring a run in by a hit in the 5th, as Alejandro Kirk singled to drive in Jackie Bradley Jr. to push the score to 3-1. Shortly after, with runners on the corners, Rutschman tried to pick off Kirk at first. The ball got away and ran into the outfield, as Kirk (the base stealing demon that he is) advanced to second, and Bo Bichette scored from third.
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Jordan Romano collected his 31st save of the season, as he cleaned up the ninth inning without any base runners, and the Blue Jays took 3 of 4 from the Orioles.
This was a critical series for the Blue Jays; with Baltimore being right on their heels in the AL Wild Card race, they gave themselves some breathing room. Their three wins came from quality starts from Manoah, Kevin Gausman, and Jose Berrios, which is a likely playoff rotation if the Blue Jays get there.
They will look to stay hot this weekend as they visit the Texas Rangers. In case you’ve forgotten, the Rangers have never won a World Series, and the Blue Jays defeated the Rangers in the playoffs in 2015 and 2016. Ross Stripling is the scheduled starter for the Jays, but it will be interesting to see how the rotation is handled with Mitch White being optioned to Buffalo today.
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