The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Toronto Blue Jays 8-1 on Sunday, avoiding a three-game sweep. The victory was the fourth consecutive for starter Shane McClanahan.
After dropping their first two games of the season, the Rays bounced back thanks to a three-run homer by Christian Bethancourt. Four times, Yandy Diaz reached base, and Josh Lowe doubled twice and drove in three runs.
In each of their first 16 games, the Rays have gone deep at least once. In 2019, only Seattle has started a season with a longer winning streak (20 games).
McClanahan (undefeated) gave up just one run on four hits. He had six strikeouts and two walks.
Each of the three pitchers, Colin Poche, Garrett Cleavinger, and Jason Adam, pitched a perfect inning. Finally, Adam ended the game by making a behind-the-back catch on a liner by Kevin Kiermaier and throwing to second for a double play, getting rid of Santiago Espinal in the process.
Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah (1-1) allowed seven runs and nine hits, all career highs for him. In 4 2/3 innings, he allowed 4 walks while striking out 5.
Manoah, a future All-Star, threw at least five innings in each of his 32 starts in 2021, including one in the postseason’s wild-card game. In four starts this year, he has only done it once.
Manoah walked Wander Franco on five pitches after hitting Diaz with his opening pitch of the game and loading the bases. Lowe delivered a two-run single to shallow center after Luke Raley and Taylor Walls both struck out.
In the bottom of the first, three Blue Jays reached base safely against McClanahan before Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drove in a run with a single, but the lefty then retired the next 11 hitters in a row.
Manoah started the fifth by striking out Franco and Raley, but he was unable to get the last out of the inning. The Rays successfully appealed the out call made by umpire Lance Barrett after Walls walked and swiped second base.
Bethancourt blasted his third home run of the season, scoring on a double by Lowe and a single by Vidal Brujan, while his back knee was touching the ground in the batter’s box.
What’s Up With Alek Manoah?
“I’m going to keep fighting my way out,” Manoah said after his outing. “That’s all I know how to do and that’s what this team needs from me.”
Manoah was as reliable as they come for the Blue Jays last year, and he ended up being a Cy Young candidate and the clear pick to start Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series for Toronto. The right-hander never allowed more than four earned runs in any of his 31 starts. He also never allowed more than five innings in any of those games.
But this year has been different, and after the Blue Jays lost 8-1 to the Rays on Sunday afternoon, Manoah’s search to regain his brilliant form from last year continued.