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Alek Manoah comes up big in Blue Jays’ series-clinching win over A’s

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Manoah Mania was front and centre under the closed roof at Rogers Centre on a day when the host Jays and visiting A’s staged the rubber match of a three-game series.

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Hard-throwing righty Alek Manoah wasn’t exactly worthy of a Cy Young candidacy, but he was good and good is precisely what the Jays required following Saturday’s outing by Hyun Jin Ryu, who was placed on the 10-day injured list with left forearm inflammation on Easter Sunday.

Manoah improved to 2-0 following Toronto’s workman-like 4-3 win over the A’s.

The Jays have played three series to begin the season and have yet to lose one, having won two out of three against Texas and now Oakland, both at home.

Toronto split its four-game set in the Bronx against the AL East rival Yankees and will renew hostilities against a divisional opponent with a three-game series in Boston beginning Tuesday, the start of a 16-game stretch that will see the Jays play the Bosox, Astros and Yankees.

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Ryu left Saturday after four innings having failed to get out of the fourth in his season debut against the Rangers last Sunday.

Fellow lefty Ryan Borucki, who started the year on the injured list with a hamstring strain, will occupy Ryu’s spot on the roster spot after Borucki was reinstated in the hours leading up to Sunday’s opening pitch.

Blue Jays’ Lourdes Gurriel Jr. scores off a Matt Chapman hit as Stephen Vogt of the Oakland Athletics misses the catch at home during the fifth inning at Rogers Centre on Sunday, April 17, 2022 in Toronto. COLE BURSTON/GETTY IMAGES
Blue Jays’ Lourdes Gurriel Jr. scores off a Matt Chapman hit as Stephen Vogt of the Oakland Athletics misses the catch at home during the fifth inning at Rogers Centre on Sunday, April 17, 2022 in Toronto. COLE BURSTON/GETTY IMAGES

Manoah went six innings against Oakland, yielding four hits, which included a long ball, two runs, while striking out six and issuing two walks.

Tim Mayza was summoned out of the pen to begin the seventh and made a great hustle play at first base.

Mayza left after recording the first out in the eighth, prompting manager Charlie Montoyo to turn to Adam Cimber.

Cimber immediately surrendered two hits in succession to put runners at the corner.

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Oakland used a sac fly to push across a run, but it was all it could muster.

The top of the ninth inning would feature Jordan Romano on the mound.

Christian Bethancourt began the inning for Oakland and flew out to right.

Up stepped Elvis Andrus, who would leave the building following a fly out to left.

The game would end on a long out to left centre, but Romano did his job to close out yet another game to record save No. 6 for a starting pitcher in Manoah who wears jersey No. 6.

The Jays got on the scoreboard first in the home half of the first on a sac fly by Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

The lead would increase to 3-0 after three innings.

Manoah was in a nice groove until the fifth.

On his first pitch of the inning, Stephen Vogt turned on Manoah’s offering and drilled it for a home run.

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The A’s scored their second run on a sac fly when Cristian Pache crossed home plate.

Pache emerged as Saturday’s hero for the visitors when he went deep on a two-run blast in Oakland’s 7-5 win off Julian Merryweather.

It was Pache’s first long ball of the season.

Vogt’s blast was also his first.

Manoah ended the fifth inning when he struck out Chad Pinder swinging.

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TRADING PLACES

The three-game series featured the first for Chapman against his former team and the first for Kevin Smith against the Blue Jays, who traded Smith to Oakland as part of the deal that landed the three-time Gold Glover.

In fact, Chapman was presented with his latest Gold Glove prior to Saturday’s game by Oakland manager Mark Kotsay.

He hit a homer, his second with the Blue Jays.

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During his five-year run in the Bay Area, the man known as Chappy belted 111 bombs.

The big piece going to Oakland was Smith, who began the series against his former team at third base.

In the series finale, Smith was at his more natural position at shortstop.

Smith was in the No. 8 slot in Oakland’s lineup, while Chapman batted fifth in the order.

Chapman hit a ball in the hole, forcing Smith to backhand it.

Smith’s throw to second sailed on him, resulting in an error that would cost the A’s a run.

The inning began when Lourdes Gurriel Jr. reached base on sharply hit ball to centre.

Smith tried to force Gurriel Jr. at second, but instead his throw came nowhere near second baseman Tony Kemp’s glove.

Ultimately, Smith’s error led to the game-winning run.

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Chapman would later get caught up in a run down between third and home, ultimately tagged by Sheldon Neuse.

Smith was robbed of a hit when Cavan Biggio made a nice play on a line drive stroked to right field in the seventh inning.

Smith drew a two-out walk in the ninth.

HITS KEEP COMING

Bo Bichette went 0-for-4 in Saturday’s loss to drop his average below .200 for the first time this season. He was picked off at first in Friday’s win when he recorded one hit. In the series finale, he wasted no time in reaching base by stroking a single in Toronto’s bottom half of the first inning … Zack Collins has been a hit in his first home series, highlighted by his first home run of the season Saturday when he produced just the second back-to-back multiple-hit game of his career. In his first at-bat Sunday, he doubled in the second inning and would score Toronto’s second run of the afternoon.

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