Blue Jays ride dad bod quartet to a momentum-shifting victory over the Rays

Toronto capitalized on offensive outburst from an unlikely hero to best a strong Rays lineup.
Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

Sunday's matchup between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays set the stage for an unlikely hero in Toronto's 5-2 victory. Looking to avoid their first sweep of the season, the Blue Jays sent right-hander Alek Manoah to the bump for his third start of the season. The dad-bod quartet of Daniel Vogelbach, Manoah, Alejandro Kirk, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. harmonized excellently in the matinee meeting between these two divisional foes.

The first quartet member to strike in the afternoon contest was Vogelbach, the DH, who has struggled mightily to begin the 2024 season, notching his first home run in a Blue Jays uniform. He came into Sunday's game sporting an abysmal triple-slash line of .108/.233/.395 and nearly doubled his hit total by going 3-4 with a home run and a double. Vogelbach's position on this Blue Jays roster has been in question for quite some time now, with Triple-A standouts like Spencer Horwitz and Orelvis Martinez dominating the minor leagues, so this game was necessary to silence the doubters. While one performance isn't going to save his spot on the major league roster, Vogey really needed a standout performance like this to show what he can do as a hitter, which is the only responsibility he's got at the moment.

Alongside Vogelbach, a struggling Kirk stood out as one of Toronto's top performers on Sunday thanks to his two-run double in the 6th off of reliever Manuel Rodríguez. Kirk's power, although never truly superb, has been almost nonexistent thus far in 2024, as he only notched four extra-base hits on the season coming into this matchup and he shone in his chance to start behind the plate. Danny Jansen's recent offensive outburst has earned him plenty of playing time at catcher but Kirk was granted the start to catch Manoah in his third outing of the season. Kirk responded by going 1-1 with two walks and two RBI on the day. It's safe to say that he was seeing the ball a lot better today than usual.

Manoah took the hill for the third start of his MLB comeback in 2024 coming off the best start he's had in about a year against the Minnesota Twins where he went 7 strong innings against a strong offensive lineup. Facing a similar team in the Tampa Bay Rays, Manoah absolutely shoved going 7 more innings while only surrendering one hit, striking out 7, and walking only one as well. The big right-hander showed stark similarities to his 2022 form with sliders and sinkers dipping and diving away from the Rays' bats. A new feature, or rather one with a more magnified role, in Manoah's pitch arsenal is his new-look changeup to offset what is typically more of a two-pitch mix. He dominated in a must-win game for a Blue Jays team in need of a momentum shift, and if he can keep this going for the rest of the season his value to the Blue Jays will be incredible.

Guerrero, who lined up at first, continued his hot stretch from the last few weeks with another great showing at the plate on Sunday, tallying two more hits. Posting at least one hit in 16 of his last 18 games, Vladdy's been on a hitting rampage and everything's been hit hard including a 108mph single off Rays starter Aaron Civale. It's only a matter of time before Guerrero starts to find his home run groove again and hopefully, it comes sooner than later. In a lineup where most of the typically reliable bats have been underperforming, Vladdy's ability to get on base doesn't go unappreciated.

The dad bod quartet of Vogelbach, Kirk, Manoah, and Guerrero combined their efforts to best the Rays and earn the Blue Jays their 20th win of the season. Although wins have been tough to come by for this team, the individual performances in this game provide plenty of hope for Jays fans hoping for the season to turn around soon.