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Jays Edge Mariners 3-2

Both Aces Struggle

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

It always seemed like the Jays would be in tough tonight. Luis Castillo is a bona fide ace, and was off to an even hotter start than usual this season. Meanwhile, Alek Manoah has been uneven at best this season, battling his delivery and issuing an uncharacteristic number of walks.

Manoah did struggle, but, surprisingly, so did Castillo, and the Jays lineup was able to take just a little more advantage of their chances than the Mariners could.

If the Jays want to make a real run this year, they’re going to have to win tough games like this. They didn’t blow the Mariners away or anything, but by working a lot of deep counts and capitalizing on their chances they did enough.

Alek Manoah really didn’t have it today. His stuff was fine, but he really couldn’t consistently locate any of his three pitches.

He got in trouble right away, giving up a double down the third base line to leadoff man Julio Rodriguez. He got the next two batters but walked cleanup hitter Eugenio Suarez. Teoscar Hernandez received a standing ovation for his first at bat back in Toronto, and repaid the fans by helping the home team out of the jam, chasing two sliders to strike out swinging.

The mariners got on the board in the second, though, on a Cal Raleigh solo shot. Manoah then loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter, but managed to induce a Ty France double play to escape.

The third was more of the same. Jared Kepenic lined a leadoff single and stole second, and scored on a Raleigh single.

Manoah settled down a bit from there, working around a Rodriguez bloop single to post a clean fourth with the help of a great throw from Alejandro Kirk to gun Rodriguez down stealing second. He gave up one more hit in the fifth, but again escaped without damage.

It was a real battle tonight, with five hits, four walks and a hit batter, but he also struck out 7 and managed to concede only two runs, leaving his team with a tie game. I’d hoped after his great start in New York he had turned the corner. Tonight shows that that hasn’t totally happened yet, but it’s hard not to be a little encouraged that he was able to grind out a decent result even when not much was working for him.

I wasn’t excited to see Luis Castillo after he obliterated the Jays in the wild card series last fall, but like Manoah tonight was far from his best. After retiring the first five batters he faced, he gave up a cannon shot of a homer to Kirk for the Jays’ first run and then walked Brandon Belt and gave up a hard double off the left field wall to Whit Merrifield to put two men in scoring position. Kevin Kiermaier laced a one hopper out to short that could have cracked the game open, but JB Crawford made an amazing diving catch and throw to get him at first and end the inning.

The Jays added a second run in the third, as Vladimir Guerrero jr worked a two out walk and Matt Chapman scored him on a double high off the centre field wall.

They didn’t get anything more off Castillo, but by working some deep counts they were able to chase him after five innings. In the end they managed two runs on six hits and a couple of walks. Not bad against a guy who came in with a 1.52 ERA and the stats to back it up.

They’d get one more in the sixth. Facing Trevor Gott, Merrifield reached on a fielder’s choice and moved to second on a Kevin Kiermaier hit by pitch. George Springer brought him home on a line single, putting the Jays up 3-2.

One runs was plenty for the bullpen tonight. Tim Mayza, Yimi Garcia, Erik Swanson and Jordan Romano combined for four perfect innings with two strikeouts apiece to secure the win.

Jays of the Day: Romano (0.156) and Swanson (0.117) had the number, but Mayza and Garcia deserve a share of the glory too. Kirk (0.199) and Chapman (0.118) represent the offence

Not so Much: Bo Bichette (-0.116), Daulton Varsho (-0.095), Brandon Belt (-0.085) and Kevin Kiermaier (0.085) really didn’t have it today.

We’re back tomorrow afternoon with game two (3:07pm ET). The Mariners will send Chris Flexen (0-4, 8.86) to the bump. The Jays haven’t announced their starter yet, but it’s Kevin Gausman’s turn.