Manoah and Bichette propel Blue Jays to 4-0 win over Pirates | Basketball


By WES CROSBY – Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Alek Manoah kicked the white ball in the eighth inning and Bo Bichette homered, leading the Toronto Blue Jays to a 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.

Manoah (13-7) allowed five hits and struck out six in 7 1/3 innings, striking out 15 of the last 18 batters he faced. The right-hander went at least seven innings without allowing a run for the first time since Sept. 13, when he went eight innings.

“He did more than we could have asked for,” Toronto manager John Schneider said. “He was brilliant tonight. … I think that speaks for itself. We trust him and he’s a great competitor.

The Blue Jays won 10 of 15 games and held on to a game-and-a-half advantage over the Baltimore Orioles in the hunt for the third and final wildcard spot in the American League.

Manoah threw 98 shots a night after standing on the sidelines for his alma mater, West Virginia, in their 38-31 loss to No. 17 Pittsburgh in the revived college football Backyard Brawl. On Friday night, he received cheers from a section packed with the college baseball team. The 24-year-old All-Star was drafted No. 11 overall from West Virginia by the Blue Jays in 2019.

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“It meant a lot,” Manoah said. “Before the game, I’m in the outfield doing my warm-ups. I just got emotional, thinking back two years, sitting in the dugout, we play Pitt. I’m like, ‘Man, I want to be in the big leagues playing here.’ Fast forward now, I’m here to do it. There was a lot of motivation to go there. A lot of people cheer me on and I just wanted to make them proud. It was pretty awesome to have a good night’s sleep.”

Toronto scored a pair of runs with three straight hits from Tyler Beede (1-5) to start the fourth inning. Matt Chapman started with a brace down the left field line, Cavan Biggio followed with a field single and Santiago Espinal led both with a left double.

“We were just trying to stay aggressive while making sure every throw he threw was in the zone,” Espinal said. “Making sure we don’t swing on bad pitches. He is a bit wild. We got the W and we have some good pitches to hit.

Beede replaced Johan Oviedo, who was retired after 77 pitches and three shutout innings in his first start for Pittsburgh since an Aug. 1 trade from St. Louis. Oviedo allowed two hits and three walks with four strikeouts.

A brace from Tyler Heineman gave Pittsburgh a chance to go forward in the third, but he was caught trying to get ahead on a passed fly ball.

The Pirates, who were down 28 of 38 since the All-Star break, didn’t get another Manoah hit before the single with an out of Jack Suwinski in the seventh. Another Cal Mitchell single put the runners in the corners with two outs before Michael Chavis found himself third.

It came after Manoah had a fifth inning of four pitches, pulling out Mitchell and Chavis on a pitch before using two to lay down Tucupita Marcano.

“I was kind of hoping it would be three pitches,” Manoah said. “I threw a radiator right in the middle. I do not know. It was pretty good. I needed a nice little break there.”

Bichette added to the Blue Jays lead in the ninth with a two-run left homer, his 18th of the season.

“He just comes back to himself,” Espinal said of Bichette. “As you can see, he feels more comfortable now. This is the Bo we know.

Blue Jays: OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. sat out with a sore left wrist.

Pirates: 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes left after the fifth inning with left shoulder discomfort. It is day to day. … DE Ben Gamel has been dropped from the squad with a left foot problem. It’s not expected to be serious, manager Derek Shelton said.

The RHP Roansy Contreras Pirates (4-4, 3.57 ERA) will take the mound on Saturday against RHP Trevor Richards (3-1, 4.53) for the Blue Jays. Contreras, a rookie, has allowed seven runs in 24 innings over his last four outings. Richards will start for the first time since Sept. 17, 2020, when he was with the Rays.

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