Blue Jays’ Alek Manoah struggles vs. Tigers in fourth start of season

Toronto Blue Jays centre-fielder Kevin Kiermaier and left fielder Daulton Varsho got their signals crossed on a flyball against the Detroit Tigers, allowing a run to score on the error as the ball found the outfield grass.

After two excellent starts, Alek Manoah hit a speed bump on Friday night in the Motor City.

The Toronto Blue Jays right-hander wasn’t at his best in his fourth start of the season and exited after 4.2 innings with his team trailing 6-0 against the Detroit Tigers.

Colt Keith homered off Manoah in the second inning to open the scoring before the Tigers piled up three more runs in the fourth thanks in large part to a lack of control and some shaky defence.

After the Tigers loaded the bases before the Jays recorded an out, left fielder Daulton Varsho and centre fielder Kevin Kiermaier got their signals crossed while running to try to catch a fly ball from Matt Vierling. Kiermaier was charged with an error as they narrowly missed a hard collision and the Tigers made it 2-0 on a play ruled a sacrifice fly.

Manoah then hit Keith on the foot on a pitch to make it 3-0.

Detroit scored one more run on a fielder’s choice before a leaping Varsho snagged a Carson Kelly liner to keep the score at 4-0.

One inning later, Kerry Carpenter drove a pitch over the heart of the strike zone over the right field wall to make it 6-0, spelling the end of Manoah’s night as he was replaced by Nate Pearson.

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“It was one of those games I just never got into a rhythm,” Manoah said after a 6-2 loss. “I was just battling to make good pitches and keep us in the ballgame.”

Manoah gave up six runs (four earned) on five hits and two walks. He also struck out four and threw 97 pitches, 60 for strikes.

Both home runs came on his change-up.

The 26-year-old didn’t give up a run in seven-inning starts the last two times out, a huge note of encouragement after he started the season in the minors.

Manoah spent last year up and down between the big-league club and the minors following his breakout 2022 campaign in which he was one of the top pitchers in the American League.

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