It took just two years for Alek Manoah to make the move from Mon County Ballpark to Yankee Stadium — but he did it with a major league bang.
Manoah earned his first big league start for the Toronto Blue Jays as his team squared off against the division rival New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, tossing six scoreless innings and earning his first major league win.
He showed up in style for his first start, which was originally slated for Wednesday but was pushed back due to weather.
The former Mountaineer opened his first start with a four-pitch walk of New York leadoff man DJ LeMahieu, but it all went up from there. He followed it up by striking out Rougned Odor and Aaron Judge before forcing a fly-out from Gleyber Torres to end the inning.
“I think those first four pitches were the most nervous, the most excitement I’d had all day, and after those four, it was kind of just like, I don’t wanna suck,” Manoah said. “So let’s lock it in right here and let’s start pitching.”
All the while, a massive contingent of Manoah supporters were cheering from the Yankee Stadium stands, led by his emotional mother, Susana. In fact, the Manoah section was making so much noise that it prompted a reaction from the Yankee faithful as the game started to look down for the home squad.
“I think everyone was hearing the Manoahs tonight,” he said.
Manoah gave six innings to the Jays, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out seven Yankees in the seven-inning game, which is the first leg of a doubleheader. Jordan Romano was called in to earn the save, retiring all three batters to keep the shutout alive.
“I wanted every single bit of that seventh inning,” he said. “But right as I was coming in and [manager] Charlie [Montoyo] gave me the hand, I kind of knew that that was it, and we’ve got some dogs in the bullpen so I just gave it over to them and let them take care of the rest.”
The rookie’s debut has been much-anticipated since his departure from West Virginia University in 2019. Shortly after finishing his college career, Manoah was drafted by Toronto with the 11th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. He is rated as the No. 5 overall and top pitching prospect in the Blue Jays organization and the No. 96 prospect in all of baseball.
The Blue Jays take their second win of the series with the Yankees as they vie for a spot in the American League East standings, with a chance to sweep at 7 p.m. They trail the third-place Yankees by 2.5 games, who are themselves 2.5 games out of the first-place Tampa Bay Rays.