When Randy Mazey got back from an evening of fishing on Tuesday, he did what few baseball coaches can: turn on a Major League Baseball game to watch his former ace pitch against the New York Yankees.
Mazey turned on the fifth inning of Alek Manoah’s fifth start of the season for the Toronto Blue Jays. At that point, Manoah had kept the game scoreless, allowing just two hits to the Bronx Bombers en route to yet another quality start of the season.
He was taken out of the game in the sixth after allowing a game-tying solo home run to Aaron Judge, which was only the Yankees’ third hit of the night off the 24-year-old righty. Toronto went on to lose the game when the Yanks put up six runs on two different relievers in the seventh inning, eventually taking a 9-1 win — the Jays’ first loss of the season in a start by Manoah.
Through five starts, Manoah has established himself as one of the top starters in MLB. He ties for the big league lead in wins with a 4-0 record, is fifth in the majors with a 1.45 ERA and tied for seventh with a 0.84 WHIP.
Manoah is even creeping into the Cy Young conversation, as oddsmakers have put the second-year hurler as a top-10 candidate for the prestigious award.
“He’s been unbelievable, but to no surprise,” Mazey said. “I knew he was that type of guy who could do that. He’s the type of guy that will pitch better against the Yankees, than if AK would have pitched…against a Division II team.”
Mazey is right, Manoah has risen to the occasion so far in his short career, especially in 2022. This season, he has held teams to a combined .167 batting average. However, it’s a different story for the Yankees, who hold the top record in the major leagues but are batting just .107 against Manoah in two games.
He did the same as a rookie in 2021, holding winning teams to a .183 average — nine points below his season total.
Mazey, of course, saw Manoah’s edge firsthand during the pitcher’s three-year career in Morgantown. In 2019, he held two of the top three teams in the Big 12 scoreless, starting with an eight-inning shutout of No. 23 Oklahoma State on the road. A week later, he threw his first complete game against Texas Tech, holding the 11th-ranked Red Raiders scoreless with four hits as the Mountaineers earned a massive win in the Big 12.
Oklahoma State later went on to win the Big 12 Tournament, and Texas Tech ended its season in Omaha with a trip to the College World Series.
“He gets excited at the biggest stage, and that’s hard to teach a kid to do,” Mazey said. “But he’s just got that in his blood, and he’ll always be that way.”