BOSTON — During Tuesday’s all-star game at Dodger Stadium, Alek Manoah’s running commentary aired in living colour on the FOX Sports telecast.
On Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park, the X-rated version of the Blue Jays starter’s analysis was reserved for the Red Sox hitters in the batting box and their compadres in the dugout.
Manoah was at his nasty best in the sixth and final inning of his outing that led to a 4-1 win over the plummeting Sox. And it was the latest compelling act of a young player emerging as one of the game’s top showmen.
There aren’t any players in all of baseball more competitive right now and Manoah isn’t shy about showing it — whether with his stuff from the mound or his mouth.
Manoah let loose at a pair of vanquished Red Sox hitters to the point where his not-for-family TV commentary caused the Boston dugout to partially empty as the sixth inning ended.
“We all know he’s an emotional guy and I think that’s what makes him elite, the way he competes,” Jays manager John Schneider after Manoah’s six-hit, one-run effort allowed him to improve to 11-4 on the season. “When guys are comfortable, that’s the best version of them (and fired-up) is when he’s comfortable.
“We saw it in the all-star game. He’s a big personality and it’s a fine line of competing and sportsmanship and gamesmanship. Today, the way the game is going, guys are going to celebrate when they do well, whether its offensively or on the mound. I was good with it.”
So, too, is Manoah, whether it be at the all-star game in L.A., or here in Boston where, as he noted afterwards, Babe Ruth once pitched. He’s pumped to pitch in the “AL Beast” as he told us in L.A., and rides the emotional and motivational train as far as it will take him.
“Just competitive baseball, man,” Manoah said. “It’s hot baseball. Those guys are trying to do everything they can to win, we’re trying to do the same on our side. I was pretty fired-up coming into the dugout and that we were able to get the win.
“My competitiveness is something that I know I can control. So, for me being able to show I’m competitive, having that will to win, expecting nothing less, is basically what I try to do every day.”
Back to the fireworks, which were what we’re occasionally starting to see as vintage Manoah.
He struck out the side in the sixth but did so with a punctuation — gesturing and bellowing at the Boston dugout after Bobby Dalbec — who homered off him earlier in the game — went down swinging.
One batter earlier, Manoah had told another strikeout victim, Franchy Cordero, to “go sit the (bleep) down.”
When his pitcher’s work day was done, Schneider had a little sit-down with Manoah, who in his three starts against Boston this season is 2-0 with a skimpy 1.35 ERA.
“What I told him was ‘outstanding effort for today,’” Schneider said. “Way to empty the tank and just make sure the emotion doesn’t get the best of you and doesn’t show up your opponent.”
As XL as Manoah’s personality is, he’s all about his teammates was well. Accordingly, he’s recorded decisions in 15 of his 19 starts this season and when the team scores two or more runs, he’s 10-0 with three no- decisions.
So what does Manoah want his teammates to think when his spin in the rotation comes up?
“That they’ve got a shot,” the big righty said. “That’s the biggest thing. When I’m there, I’m trying to bring a lot of good energy, trying to bring competitiveness. And I just want them to know that I’m giving it my all and trying to give them the best shot to win.”
AROUND THE BASES
The victory continued an impressive run for the Jays — and a memorable week for Manoah, who struck out three of the four batters he faced at the midsummer classic in L.A. The Jays have won five in a row and are now 6-1 under Schneider as they charge forward into playoff-race mode … After a run in which they dropped nine of 10, the potent Jays lineup has won seven of its past eight … For the second straight outing, Manoah allowed just one earned run, this time the second-inning homer to Dalbec … The reeling Red Sox have dropped four in a row and are 1-9 in their past five and will now be winless in their 12 series against AL East opponents this season … With the win, the Jays moved into second in the AL wild-card race, a game up on Seattle. Toronto, which is 9-3 against Boston, now has a four-game bulge on its division rival.
The Sox had the makings of a comeback in the eighth with two on and one out. But after Cordero struck out and Jordan Romano was summoned from the bullpen, Dalbec popped up to end it. Romano then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to get his 21st save. Schneider was confident his righty had four outs in him: “You can’t do it every day, but he didn’t pitch in the all-star game and we have a short series and a day off on Monday, so maximize that spot,” Schneider said. ”It’s not going to be all the time but where he was in terms of rest and how we felt about those matchups, it was a perfect time to do it. … We also got a hint of the manager’s aggressiveness with a hit-and-run on scoring Matt Chapman from first on a Santiago Espinal single.