If, for some reason, the Toronto Blue Jays’ 44-run weekend didn’t sell you on the offense, they presented another sales pitch Monday night.
Five straight hits, four runs, and a busted open ballgame in the fourth inning is nothing new for the streaking Blue Jays. But Monday they did it against a nemesis, exorcising demons against Tampa starter Ryan Yarbrough.
The next inning the lineup did it again, building a seven-run lead for a dominating Alek Manoah. It wasn’t the 22-run outburst of Sunday, but with a shutout righty on the mound, it didn't need to be. Monday’s win came against the best team in the American League and against a starter who had owned the Blue Jays before — the latest litmus test passed.
“Our hitters made a good adjustment today," manager Charlie Montoyo said. "The bottom of our lineup made an adjustment today, and that was the game."
In the third inning, Guerrero Jr. reached for a changeup low and away. The calm bouncing grounder to short ended Toronto's bases-loaded threat and seemed like the start of another outing of Yarbrough befuddlement. In 16 career games against the Tampa Bay lefty, the Jays hit just .219 against Yarbrough with a .260 on-base percentage. Scoring just 23 runs in 285 PA against Yarbrough coming into Monday's start, the Jays tallied seven against the southpaw in just 2.1 innings.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Alejandro Kirk solved Yarbrough with consecutive singles to start the fourth inning rally, each taking the perfectly placed pitch and shooting it into an outfield hole. Not trying to pull or punish, the Toronto hitters passed the baton to chase Tampa’s starter. In the fourth through sixth frames, the bottom third of Toronto’s order combined to go eight for nine with six RBI.
All the while, Toronto’s offensive outburst simmered over an exquisite Manoah outing. The Toronto righty began with perfection, brushing off the rubber, touching the brim of his cap, and sitting down the first three Tampa hitters in just four minutes. The Rays didn’t get a baserunner until two outs in the fifth and finished with just two hits on the night.
“It’s a lot easier to pitch when you got an 8-0 lead," Manoah said.
A week after back-to-back three-walk outings, the righty shaped his slider, commanded the strike zone, and dealt a signature start to stand atop his rookie campaign. Manoah finished his 17th career start with a career-high eight innings pitched, one baserunner against, and 10 strikeouts.
“That was one of our main goals coming into the season," Manoah said. "Go be a workhorse, go be a dog.”
Coming into Monday, the Rays had scored the third-most runs in the American League during September. Coming into Monday, Yarbrough owned the Blue Jay lineup. After Monday, neither are true anymore.