TORONTO — Mistakes have cost Alec Manoa early this season, but those have typically been his own.
Saturday was a little different at the Rogers Center. With two on and two outs in the sixth and Manoah on just 85 pitches, manager John Schneider came out for a chat. The problem is that pitching coach Pete Walker visited Manoah in the same inning, and a second visit in the same inning usually requires a quality change.
Home-plate umpire and pitcher Dan Isogna relayed that information to Schneider, who turned around and shared it with the starter. Manuhe’s shoulders slumped and he left the mound, gas still in the tank.
“I [screwed] Schneider immediately owned up to the mistake after the 6-5, 10-inning loss and made it clear it wouldn’t happen again. I forgot Pete was up there because we were talking about so many different things.
Manoa was in 5 2/3 two-run ball, shaking off a rocky first inning to look more like himself the rest of the way. Manoah was a welcome sign for the Blue Jays after walking seven batters last time out, and his return to form in 2022 is as important as any narrative surrounding this organization.
The big man didn’t show any disappointment after the loss, saying, “It will happen,” but there is still some confusion at this point.
“There was a little silence. “I knew Pete was coming there,” Manoa said. “When he asked me if I wanted to stay in the game, I said, ‘Well, maybe Pete won’t come out here?’ I said. I wasn’t sure. I told him I wanted to stay there and pleaded my case, but when he left the judge was like, ‘Hey, that was your second visit.’
Given the pitch and the pitcher involved, most of the attention after the offense rests on this move, but it belongs elsewhere.
They recently dropped a 1-5 skid against the Yankees and Orioles. This is one of baseball’s best examples of “things that come and go,” but when it’s gone, it’s hard to look away.
The Blue Jays were just 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position Saturday, and while that number was 3-for-15, you’d be reading a different story.
Their .237 team batting average currently ranks them 24th in MLB and their .704 OPS ranks them 21st. This talented lineup won’t hang on to these numbers forever, but the theme all week is that the AL East needs urgency. At the end of it all, he has no time to wait in a division that boasts a five-game winning streak.
It’s important not to lose sight of what’s right for Manuwa as an individual, though, given the importance of this team’s success. They were working with Danny Johnson for the first time in 2023, breaking the Manoa-Alejandro Kirk tandem that had been together for 30 of their 31 starts a year ago.
“It’s a different look for Alec,” Schneider said before the game [Jansen] The bat is swinging well.
Bingo Jansen hit his fifth home run, giving the Blue Jays a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning.
Jansen tends to be the cure-all for the Blue Jays. It’s hard to imagine how highly regarded Jansen is in the organization. While his defense and ability to manage a pitching staff may be more subtle, weeks at the plate like last week’s can’t be missed.
Jansen already has two walk-off hits in the past week, and Saturday’s home run continues the hot streak that has seen him lean into his identity as a go-to power hitter. This is the Jansen we saw in 2022, who hit 15 home runs with an .855 OPS in just 72 games and has the power to hit 30-plus when he gets out there every day.
There won’t be a traditional “starter” when both Jansen and Kirk are in town, but on a team that’s incredibly hungry for home runs, Jansen’s superior power potential should now be available as a ‘1A.
Beyond Manoa and Jansen, however, Saturday’s effort was left in another painful way.
The Blue Jays are close — painfully close, at times — and their talent is undeniable on paper. They need to show that again at home, though, and especially in the AL East.