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Alek’s Back! (And Jays Stomp Tigers 12-2)

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Detroit Tigers David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

It was a triumphant return for Alek Manoah. The big man has been away from the big team for a month working on his mechanics. It showed tonight, with his best outing of the season. He took an inning to find his footing, but after that he carved through the Tigers lineup the way we were used to him doing last year. It’s only one appearance, but it was everything that could have been hoped for.

Also, the offence nuked some bad Detroit pitching.

The lineup struggled with Alex Faedo the first time through. Ye retired the first six batters with ease. Leading off the third, Daulton Varsho finally made some good contact with a fly to the track in centre that would have left most parks, but in Detroit tonight was caught for an out. A batter later, Kevin Kiermaier broke the seal with a ground single. George Springer lined a double into the right field corner to score him and put Toronto up 1-0.

In the fourth, they blew things open. Brandon Belt walked, Vladimir Guerrero jr hit a ground ball single, Matt Chapman walked to load the bases, Whit Merrified lined a single of his own to score Belt, Danny Jansen scored two more with a line single that left fielder Akil Baddoo misplayed into a double, Kevin Kiermaier brought a fourth run in on a ground out, and George Springer fired a laser just inside the left field foul pole to make it 7-1. That was the end of the line for Faedo. Replacement Mason Englert gave up a double to Bo Bichette, but popped Belt up to stop it there.

They weren’t able to do much with Englert over the next two innings, although Vlad did hit another ball to the track in centre that would have left the yard in Toronto. Danny Jansen was hit in tur hand in the sixth but seemed fine.

Brendan White pitched the seventh. Vld hit another ball well, a liner that second baseman Andy Ibanez made a leaping grab on, and Matt Chapman reached on an error, but a double play erased it.

Chasen Shreve gave up a single to Kiermaier in the eighth, but that was it.

In the ninth, things got out of hand. Facing Jose Cisnero, the first four batters all reached, scoring two and setting the table for Whit Merrifield, who launched his third homer in two days to baloon the lead to 12-2. That 10 run margin allowed the Tigers to turn to backup third baseman Zack Short. With his nasty 47mph breaking ball, short retired the first two batters he faced. Kiermaier hit a fly that might have gotten over the fence, but Carpenter knocked it down and held him to a single. Springer took an errant fastball off the shoulder (it was 53mph, he lived), and Bichette added a fly ball single of his own to load them up, but Belt grounded out to end it.

Manoah gave up a soft single to Matt Vierling in the first, but avoided damage. He looked a little shaky, causing himself to balk at one point by kicking himself in the shin, but he also made some good pitches.

He looked better in the second, striking out two in the process of sitting the Tigers down in order.

In the third he surrendered a run on three singles to tie it at 1, but none of them were especially well hit. He made some good pitches, and a couple of softly struck balls just found holes.

Manoah sat for a long time during the Jays’ prolific fourth, but still looked sharp when he came out for the bottom half of the inning. He again retired the Tigers in order, adding his fifth strikeout on the way. He was equally effective against n the fifth and sixth, picking up three more strikeouts and allowing just an infield single.

Overall it was a terrific night. Yes, the Tigers offence is bad, but Manoah’s stuff looked solid and he located well enough to beat good hitters. 8 Ks against just 5 hits and no walks over six is outstanding in any context.

Mitch White took over in the seventh. He worked around a walk to Miguel Cabrera with the help of a double play to turn in a clean inning.

He got the first man in the eighth, but gave up a line single to Zach McKinstry. After a pop out, McKinstry would come all the way around to score on a Matt Vierling single to centre field. It was a daring piece of base running, especially down 6, but McKinstry executed perfectly to make it 7-2. That was it for White, who was lifted for Bowden Francis. Francis quickly got a fly out from Kerry Carpenter to exit the inning.

Francis came back and retired the Tigers in order to wrap it up in the ninth.

Jays of the Day: Manoah (0.071 but more importantly back), Springer (0.175), Jansen (0.132)

Belong in Detroit: Varsho (-0.091)

We’re back tomorrow at 1:10pm ET for game two. Kevin Gausman (7-4, 3.04) will take on Matt Manning (1-2, 4.84).