Reds 1 at Blue Jays 3
It was the Bo-and-Manoah show Saturday afternoon, with the former providing all the run production and the latter doing yeoman's work on the run prevention side to hold the recently resurgent Reds largely at bay in a pleasantly quick moving affair that lasted just 2h:19m.
In a matchup of two of MLB’s higher profile young pitchers, Manoah outdueled Hunter Greene with 8 innings of one run ball. It was not his most dominant start, as he allowed a fair bit of hard contact and only notched four strikeouts, but also avoided any free passes. he was mostly in control, and worked around the 7 hits he did allow.
In the early going, he dominated largely with his fastball in turning aside the first six batters, though flashing a few very nice changeups including a couple to Joey Votto who popped out. he first spot of trouble came in the 3rd, allowing a one out single and going 2-0 to Matt Reynolds on a pair of errant fastballs. So Manoah pulled out the slider, landing one as the runner took off and was gunned down comfortably. Reynolds then went down swinging on two more nice sliders (nice little trick to just pull out of the back pocket).
That led into Manoah’s worst inning, the only time the Reds got to him but he escaped what could and should have been a crooked number. After a leadoff single, Tyler Naquin put a gorund ball just in the right spot between first and second, ending up on second as it died in the outfield. Facing a dire 2nd/3rd none out spot, Manoah’s first pitch Tommy Pham was fisted back it him on a shattered back, and he snared it out of the air and tossed to third for a fantastic double play.
Alas, he couldnm’t completely execute the escape, as he then hung a slide over the plate to Votto, who did what Votto does to such things, and clobbered it down the line for an RBI double.
Manoah maneouvered through the middle innings, giving up a solid single in each of the 5th and 6th and having at least another hard hit find a glove in each inning. A leadoff double by Tyler Stephenson in the 7th seemed to put him on the ropes, but he recovered in a huger way with a pair of ground balls sandwiched around a strikeout on the minimum five pitches. That carried over to the 8th, as he finished the outing in the dominant form he started with.
The offense did little the first turn through the order against uber-rookie Hunter Greene and his 100 MPH heat, the lone blemish being Alejandro Kirk working him for an impressive walk. The tide started shifting in the 4th, as it took Bo Bichette precisely one pitch to re-tie the game 1-1, ambushing a mediocre slider that hung languidly over the plate and demolishing it to the left field bleachers.
The middle of the order couldn’t do anything more after that, going in order with a couple swinging strikeouts. They threatened in the 5th with a pair of one out singles by Matt Chapman and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. but advanced no further on a couple groundouts.
The 6th should have been a quick inning for Greene on three groundouts, but the last be Teoscar Hernandez to third was thrown away, giving the Jays a crack of daylight. They sort of capitalized, at least of threatened by loading the bases on a single by Santiago Espinal and another walk from Kirk, only for Chapman to strike out and strand the runners. It did end Greene’s day however.
Raimel Tapia singled with one out in the 7th, and Springer hammered a ball to centre that T.j. Freidl had too off his glove. Springer tried to force the issue and take second, but was gunner down. So it looked like the Jays were set to follow their recent pattern of failing to plate runners to not support a good starting effort, but Bichette was not going to let that happen. Once again, he ambushed a first pitch slider for a 400+ home run to left field, this one off reliever Luis Cessa. That provided all the support that was needed.
Jordan Romano came in for the 9th and was dominant, striking out all three batters on 16 pitches.
Jays of the Day: Bichette (+0.389 WPA) and Manoah (+0.363) by the numbers. Let’s give one to Romano (+0.072) as well for blowing away the side.
Suckage: Springer (-0.107), Chapman (-0.095)
Tomorrow, the Jays will turn to Yusei Kukuchi as they look to complete their first sweep of the year against 2021 farmhand Connor Overton. Both have been very good recently, as the latter has turned in four good starts for Cincinnati albeit somewhat some and mirrors peripherally.