Red Sox 0 at Blue Jays 9
One night after clinching a wild card ticket to the MLB postseason in underwhelming fashion, Alek Manoah and the Blue Jays put an exclamation on their case by rolling over the Red Sox in a 9-0 shutout.
Manoah didn’t really have good feel for his fastball in the first inning, but worked through it by leaning on some very nice changeups to allow just a walk that he stranded. He did labour a bit, needing 21 pitches. The second inning was more like normal, a clean inning on 13 pitches with a strikeout, harmless fly ball and popout.
From that point on, Manoah just put things on autopilot. He ended going 6 shutout innings on 96 pitches, allowing 2 hits and 2 walks against 4 strikeouts. It wouldn’t be accurate to say that be buzzsawed through the Red Sox lineup, because he didn’t have that kind of stuff tonight and wasn’t overpoweringly dominant.
But neither did they did come to really even making good contact. The two hits were both cheapies, a ground ball bounced to first that Manoah didn’t expect to stay fair and didn’t get off the mound, and a blooper to open the 6th. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but the former broke up a no-hitter that was almost halfway home. A somewhat unfortunate way for it to end, but perhaps a blessing in disguise considering the elevated pitch count early to obviate any reluctance to take him out.
Frankly, it might have been the most ordinary looking six shutout innings I can ever recall seeing, certainly this year at any rate. But then, that’s what makes an ace an ace
The Jays built an early lead manufacturing runs in each of the first two innings on productive outs after critical free bases, though failed to fully capitalize on chances both times to put crooked numbers. George Springer and Bo Bichette smashed singles leading off the second, the former scoring on a RBI bounceout by Alejandro Kirk after a passed ball. Whit Merrifield’s sac fly plated another in the 2nd after a single, walk and wild pitch.
Getting on the board for a third straight inning, the Jays finally got a crooked number in a more usual manner for them:
That’s one you can admire without any worrying about having to turn on the jets later to avoid being thrown out. With an exit velocity of 117.5 MPH, according to the broadcast it was the 6th hardest ball he’s put in play in his 500 career games (only the second for a home run).
Nick Pivetta did manage to shut down the Jays bat from that point onward until he exited after five innings. The Red Sox brought in Tyler Danish, and the Jays proceed to unload:
Danny Jansen and Merrifield followed by drilling single, putting George Springer in position to finally land the knockout punch with a no-doubter of his own that almost rivalled Vladdy:
It took precisely 10 pitches for the Jays to double their lead and turn it into a laugher, and from that point they cruised to victory. They tacked on one more in the 8th as Merrifield doubled for his third hit of the day, scoring on Bichette’s single that set a franchise record with his 48th hit of the month (and tying for the MLB lead with his 27th RBI of the month).
Yusei Kikuchi was pleasantly competent in closing out the last three innings both effectively (1 hit over 3 shutout innings, 1 BB, 5 K) and efficiently (throwing strikes).
Jays of the Day: Manoah (+.241 WPA) is the only one by the numbers. We’ll add Springer (+.046), Bichette (+.068), Guerrero (+.049), Tapia (+.029) and Merrifield (+.023), all with multi-hits night save Vladdy. Heck, let’s add Kikuchi too. You get a JoTD! And you get a JoTD, EVERYBODY GETS A JoTD!!!
Suckage: None. Matt Chapman (-.045) was actually the only one in negative territory, picking a good night to have an 0-fer, but also made a nice throw to complete a double play in the 6th and save Manoah some pitches.
Tomorrow, the Jays will look to secure the series and more importantly maintain their margin for hosting with Ross Stripling taking the mound opposite rookie Brayan Bello at 3:07 EDT.