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Manoah shines as Blue Jays fend off Rays 5-2

TORONTO – Alek Manoah was superb for seven scoreless innings, striking out seven, as the Toronto Blue Jays fended off the Tampa Bays Rays 5-2 on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.

Manoah (1-1) allowed just one walk and one hit in his best start of the season. He dropped his earned-run average from 4.91 to 3.00.

It was Manoah’s first win since a 7-3 victory in Boston on Aug. 4 as he struggled through 2023 and began this season on the injured list with shoulder soreness.

Daniel Vogelbach was 3-for-4 at the plate, including a solo home run, as Toronto (20-25) snapped a three-game losing skid. Alejandro Kirk had a two-run double and George Springer added an RBI double.

Trevor Richards, Zach Pop of Brampton, Ont., and Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., came out of the Blue Jays bullpen, with Pop giving up two runs in the ninth.

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Aaron Civale (2-4) allowed five runs — four earned — on six hits and four walks for Tampa Bay (25-23), striking out three over 5 1/3 innings. Manuel Rodriguez and Phil Maton came on in relief.

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Isaac Paredes hit a two-run homer for the Rays with two outs in the ninth to end the shutout.

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Sunday was Manoah’s second consecutive quality start after he allowed three runs — all unearned — and struck out six over seven innings in Toronto’s 5-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins on May 12.

Vogelbach opened the scoring in the second inning, smashing his first home run of the season 394 feet over the centre-field wall. Vogelbach’s homer had a 106.4 m.p.h. exit velocity off a 92 m.p.h. sinker that was dead centre in his strike zone.

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It was only Vogelbach’s 38th at bat of the season, as the 31-year-old veteran designated hitter has been used sparingly after signing a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays on Feb. 16. Sunday’s performance improved his batting average 63 points, finishing the day at .171.

Toronto added two more runs in the fourth.

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Springer hit bounced a double off the wall in centre-left field to score Vogelbach from second. Paredes bobbled what looked like a surefire groundout to third by Kiner-Falefa in the next at bat. As the ball dribbled into foul territory Springer rounded third and sprinted home as Kiner-Falefa reached first comfortably on the error.

Kirk then drew a walk and Kevin Kiermaier was hit by a pitch as Civale loaded the bases. But, with two outs, Davis Schneider struck out to end the threat with Toronto missing a chance to add even more runs to its 3-0 lead.

Kirk made up for that squandered opportunity in the sixth inning when his double landed just before the warning track in left field. That scored Vogelbach and Springer for a 5-0 Blue Jays lead.

Pop recorded two outs to start the ninth but Jonathan Aranda reached base after his groundout to first withstood a video challenge. That brought Paredes to the plate and he made no mistake on Pop’s 96.7 m.p.h. sinker, launching his ninth homer of the season to make it 5-2.

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After Pop walked Richie Palacious, Romano came to the mound to get the game’s final out and his seventh save of the season.

ON DECK — Jose Berríos (4-3) gets the start as the Blue Jays open up a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox on Monday afternoon.

Erick Fedde (4-0) will take the mound for Chicago.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2024.

&© 2024 The Canadian Press

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