The Rays avoid the sweep at the hands of a tough Alek Manoah start

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Stack
1 year ago
On paper, the pitching matchup listed ahead of today’s game gave the impression of a pitcher’s duel. Shane McClanahan and Alek Manoah, sixth and third in AL Cy Young voting a year ago, respectively, were facing each other today. Unfortunately, Manoah came out on the losing end, as the Rays defeated Toronto 8-1 to avoid the sweep.
The Player of the Game choice should give you a pretty good idea of how things went, with all due respect.

Blue Jays Nation’s Player of the Game: Trevor Richards

It was slim pickings for today’s choice, but Richards tossed an impressive two innings of baseball. After a tough season last year and an unfortunate outing against Kansas City earlier this month, Richards had become the “odd man out” of sorts with a plethora of promising bullpen candidates sitting in Buffalo. Since that outing against the Royals in which he allowed 3 earned runs, Richards has not allowed a single earned run and has struck out eight versus only two walks.
Today, Richards retired all six of the batters he faced, including three strikeouts. The first two were from his elite changeup, with the final one being a 92 mph fastball thrown at the bottom corner of the zone to send Wander Franco out looking. Richards has now lowered his ERA to 3.68, and is proving his worth to the bullpen. A reliable multi-inning arm to keep the score where it’s at in a low-leverage situation is the role Richards looks to be serving.

Things worth mentioning

Alek Manoah: Manoah was the biggest storyline of today’s game, as he had another grind of a day that had an ugly ending and started out with sporadic locating of pitches. Manoah was off from the jump, as the very first pitch of the game hit Yandy Diaz square in the back. A non-baseball-watching person would’ve thought that the pitch was intentional, and even Diaz had a flummoxed look on his face.
Two batters later, Manoah loaded the bases, and would proceed to walk Franco to force in a run. Manoah was able to settle in a bit, as he struck out Luke Raley and Taylor Walls for the first and second outs of the game, and an opportunity to exit the first inning only allowing a run. He almost got out of the jam, as a check swing on a 1-2 pitch to Josh Lowe was called a non-swing despite Manoah’s certainty that Lowe followed through. Lowe would eventually single to center and score a pair of runs.
Manoah was able to collect himself by not allowing a run through the second, third, and fourth innings, and he even retired the first two batters of the fifth. Manoah walked Walls, but he was thrown out on a steal attempt by Alejandro Kirk. Much like the first inning, a call went Tampa’s way, as the Rays challenged the tag at second by Bo Bichette. Walls was safe at second shortly before Bichette’s tag was applied, and the Rays stayed alive. An RBI double from Lowe and a 3-run home run by Christian Bethancourt ensued, and the Rays led 7-1.
Had a couple of calls gone Manoah’s way, his day could’ve looked different from a runs perspective. However, there are legitimate concerns with his location as he has 9 walks vs. 8 strikeouts in his last two games.
Shane McClanahan: Manoah’s opposition was McClanahan, who was really good after a shaky first inning. McClanahan tossed six innings, allowing four hits, one run, two walks, and six strikeouts. McClanahan is now 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA, making his early case for AL Cy Young candidacy.
The road ahead: The vibes are poor from the loss, but the Blue Jays did take two of three from the Rays, which is great. They travel to Houston to take on the reigning World Series champs tomorrow, with another couple of pitching talents facing each other. Kevin Gausman will oppose Christian Javier, who has struggled out of the gate after an impressive 2022.


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