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May 5, 2024 3:07 am

Alek Manoah back in majors as Jays take on Nationals

alek manoah

Toronto right-hander Alek Manoah will make his 2024 major league debut when the visiting Blue Jays go for a series win against the Washington Nationals on Sunday afternoon.

Washington rallied for a 9-3 win on Friday night before Toronto scored four runs in the first inning on Saturday and held on for a 6-3 victory.

The 26-year-old Manoah, who has been rehabbing from a bout of right shoulder inflammation, will be called up from Triple-A Buffalo to make the start on Sunday.

Manoah was selected by Toronto in the first round (11th overall) of the 2019 draft. After going 25-9 with a 2.60 ERA over his first two seasons, Manoah was 3-9 with a 5.87 ERA in 19 starts in 2023 and was sent down to Buffalo after an Aug. 10 loss to the Cleveland Guardians. He ended up being placed on the temporarily inactive list less than a month later.

In four starts at Buffalo this year, Manoah gave up 23 hits in 18 innings while going 0-2 with a 6.50 ERA. He did fan 26, though, with 12 of those strikeouts coming on Tuesday in his most recent outing, where he tossed six innings of one-run ball.

“This is a guy who’s going to help us,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said of Manoah. “That’s our goal. I think coming off the outing he had in (Triple-A) and then giving some guys who have been here some extra rest. I think that plays a part in it. … Just the combination of what’s best for everyone, including Alek.”

Manoah lost his only career start against the Nationals, allowing seven runs (six earned) in three innings back on Aug. 17, 2021.

Opposing Manoah will be left-hander MacKenzie Gore (2-3, 3.19 ERA). Gore has allowed three runs or less in each of his six starts this year and is averaging 11.03 strikeouts per nine innings.

Last time out, Gore took the loss despite allowing two runs on five hits in five innings against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday. He struck out seven and walked one.

“I’ve been throwing a lot of heaters with two strikes. Threw a lot of curveballs with two strikes (Tuesday),” Gore said. “They look similar, and it worked.”

Gore won his only career start against the Blue Jays, allowing one run over five innings on Aug. 29, 2023.

On Saturday, Kevin Gausman pitched into the sixth inning to help the Blue Jays end a three-game losing streak. Kevin Kiermaier hit a two-run homer in his return from the injured list, and Danny Jansen and Daulton Varsho each had two hits.

Schneider shook up his lineup, moving Varsho up to the No. 2 spot and shifting Bo Bichette down to the five-hole.

“If that’s what we think is the best option for us scoring runs, I’m willing to do whatever,” Bichette said. “We’ve got (to) get going and I haven’t done much to contribute, so whatever they want.”

Bichette was 1-for-3 before being ejected for arguing a called third strike in the fifth. He raised his batting average to .202.

Toronto scored four unearned runs in the first inning thanks in large part to Washington’s poor defense. The Nationals sandwiched two throwing errors around another poor throw that cost them the second half of a potential double play.

Washington committed four errors in the game.

“It was bad. First inning was not good,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “We couldn’t throw the ball to first base. So just one of those days, right? The weather was not good, but we should have made those plays.”

–Field Level Media

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