Alek Manoah didn’t need much run support on Monday night.
The Blue Jays starter got it anyway, and in a big way.
In the opener of a four-game series at the Rogers Centre against the Baltimore Orioles, Manoah was his stellar self, allowing just one hit in six innings as the Jays crushed the O’s 11-1.
The Jays’ offence did its part and then some, rapping a season-high 19 hits and blowing the game open with seven runs in the fifth, a team-high for one inning in 2022.
As a result, the Jays, who have won 14 of their past 18 games, improved to 36-24, the first time they’ve been 12 games over .500 this season.
Every Jays starter had at least one hit and each one scored at least one run.
The only home run hit by the Jays came in the eighth, when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. launched the first pitch from Rico Garcia deep to left field for his 15th homer of the season.
Manoah (8-1) struck out seven, two shy of his season-high. The only hit off him was by shortstop Jorge Mateo to begin the third; otherwise, Manoah had no blemishes after the first, when he hit Trey Mancini and walked Rougned Odor.
With the victory, Manoah became the seventh pitcher in the modern era (since 1901) to reach 17 wins in his first 20 career decisions as a starting pitcher.
The Orioles scored off Julian Merryweather, who then departed the game with left side discomfort, with two out in the seventh when Kyle Stowers doubled to bring home Adley Rutschman.
Sitting on a 2-0 lead, the Jays went to work in their half of the fifth before a crowd of 19,716.
By the time the Jays were done roughing up Orioles starter Kyle Bradish (1-4) and Logan Gillaspie, Toronto sent 11 batters to the plate and every Jays starter, minus George Springer and Alejandro Kirk, scored.
Highlights in the outburst included a two-run single by Santiago Espinal, a two-run single by Raimel Tapia and an RBI triple by Cavan Biggio. Five of the Jays’ runs were scored with two out.
Springer came across the plate in the first inning and again in the third for the Jays’ first two runs. He was knocked in on a Kirk single to give the Jays an early one-run lead and after leading off the third with a double, scored on a single by Guerrero.
In the sixth, an Espinal single scored Kirk.
The 11 runs were one short of the Jays’ season-high, coming on June 4 when they beat the Minnesota Twins 12-3. Their previous high in hits came in that win, when they had 16.
The Jays held a moment of silence for Loretta Rogers, wife of the late Ted Rogers, before the game and the players wore black armbands in her honour. Loretta Rogers, the matriarch of the Rogers family, passed away on Saturday at the age of 83.
BACK IN A BIGGIO WAY
Prior to Monday, Biggio was hitting .306 and had a .457 OBP in 13 games after being recalled from triple-A Buffalo.
This after Biggio had one hit in 23 at-bats in 13 games in April.
What was making the difference for Biggio at the plate?
“A combination of things,” Biggio told the Toronto Sun before the game. “A lot of it has to do with being able to feel good body-wise, staying healthy and being able to have a consistent routine in that aspect.
“Getting COVID (at the end of April), going to Buffalo to do a rehab stint and then getting optioned for 10 days allowed me to work on some things overall and put them to the test.”
Not only can Jays manager Charlie Montoyo use Biggio at various positions defensively, there’s an increased confidence when Biggio arrives in the batter’s box.
“My goal was to play him as much as I can, because I know what he could be,” Montoyo said. “At the same time, I could give guys days off. Now, he’s earning every at-bat that he gets and the playing time that he gets.
“The best thing he did was go down to triple-A and get at-bats. He is comfortable now. On-base percentage, getting on base, having good at-bats, he has helped us a lot. He’s a key for this team.”
For Montoyo, Gabriel Moreno’s first two games with the club on the weekend, after Moreno was recalled from Buffalo, brought to mind fellow catcher Kirk. “Same way,” Montoyo said, mentioning Kirk and using his hand to make a gesture indicating even-keel when asked about Moreno. “Not nervous by the moment. Good to see. He’s nice and relaxed.” … The 28 batters faced by Jays pitchers in the 6-0 victory in Detroit on Sunday tied the franchise record for fewest in a nine-inning game, and was accomplished for the 11th time … Lefty Yusei Kikuchi, who is slated to start against the Orioles on Tuesday, will be looking for his first win since May 16 … Third baseman Matt Chapman missed a third game in a row with a sore wrist. Chapman can field, but is having a bit of an issue at the plate. Montoyo isn’t concerned.