Manoah had just given up back-to-back home runs to Ryan Mountcastle and DJ Stewart to give the O's a 5-2 lead in the fourth inning, and on his very next pitch, a 93.8-mph sinker ran up and in, hitting Maikel Franco near the shoulder as he tried to lunge out of the way. Franco didn’t like it, and as he stared out at Manoah, who was walking in from the mound, the pair exchanged words.
Though it looked like the pitch got away from Manoah, the benches quickly cleared and the incident escalated from there. There was a heated group of players, but it turned out to be the clubs’ coaching staffs who were right in the middle of it. At one point, Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo and Orioles manager Brandon Hyde had a heated exchange as they were held back from the center of the scrum.
“I was getting our team back, and then there was something said that I didn’t appreciate,” said Hyde, who believed Manoah hitting Franco was intentional. “That’s what happened. Then we calmed down and went back to the dugout.”
The Blue Jays mounted a late comeback victory, starting with Bo Bichette down to his very last strike before fouling off pitch after pitch against Paul Fry. Bichette eventually blooped a two-run single to right field, setting up Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s two-run double to put the Blue Jays ahead. It was a major win for the Blue Jays, especially with emotions running high from earlier.
The surprise came when Manoah was ejected. No warning had been issued prior, but Manoah was seen speaking with the umpiring crew near home plate and pleading his case before leaving the field. It had been a tough day for Manoah, who had already allowed four home runs through 3 1/3 innings, and you won’t find a more outwardly passionate player on Toronto’s roster. The 23-year-old rookie was clearly upset as he walked off the field into the Blue Jays’ dugout.
“He told me it was bad timing. I’m just out there competing, man,” Manoah said. “I threw [Franco] a ton of sliders his first at-bat. [Catcher] Reese [McGuire] wanted to throw a slider again, but I said no because of that. I previously gave up two home runs on a fastball in and slider in to Mountcastle that stayed down the middle, and I need to pitch in. I tried to get that fastball in, and it slipped away. I was kind of confused at his reaction and was questioning what’s going on. Those were my hand gestures as I was walking towards him. I was trying to figure out what was going on.”
It’s not surprising to see frustrations take over for these two clubs. The Blue Jays were already coming off five straight division losses -- a few of those late losses involving the bullpen -- and the Orioles entered at 23-46, sitting in the basement of the American League East with the second-worst record in baseball. Following the Blue Jays’ most recent loss, 7-1 to the Orioles in the series opener on Friday, Montoyo held a meeting with a core group of players to check in and encourage them forward.
Marcus Semien was part of that group. The veteran is typically the calming influence for the Blue Jays, holding the respect of his teammates and the coaching staff, but there wasn’t much calm about the benches clearing. Guerrero chose to reposition some people, picking up former Blue Jays infielder Freddy Galvis clear off the ground and carrying him away from the scrum in his own, good-mannered way. Semien wanted to make sure he had his young teammate's back.
“I want [Manoah] to be able to stay in the game, but the umpires did what they had to do. He’s a young pitcher who pitches with a lot of emotion, and he’ll be better next start,” Semien said. “He throws the ball in a lot. Sometimes, it gets away from him. They reacted, they ran out towards him and we just wanted to defend him.”
These two teams meet again on Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. ET to wrap up their series, and they won’t need to wait long for the next one as the Orioles travel to Buffalo, N.Y., this coming Thursday to begin another four-game set.