Manaea leads A’s to first career win over Texas

On the strength of his longest career outing rookie Sean Manaea picked up his first career win, beating the AL West-leading Texas Rangers 3-1 Monday night.

Manaea (1-1, 7.91) came into the game with a 11.37 ERA yet silenced the AL’s No. 2 scoring offense, allowing a career-low one run on a career-high 6-2/3 innings.

Aside from a two-run rally in the fourth, Rangers starter Derek Holland (3-3, 5.63 ERA) pitched well. lasting 6 complete but taking the loss. The A’s (17-22) got a home run from Marcus Semien (team-leading 10) in the seventh to claim their first meeting of the season with the Rangers (22-17).

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This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.

Manaea said the celebration of his first major-league win will include ice cream and “Game of Thrones.”

He added:

“It’s a dream come true. Obviously, being up here is the first thing but to get the first win, that’s huge. I’m really glad I got to do it at home.”

A’s Manager Bob Melvin was especially impressed by the lefty’s outing, given the reputation of the Texas offense:

“This is a good lineup. They’re playing well. To get us as deep as he did into the game like that, to keep them to one run, is a pretty tall order. Impressive.”

The rookie earned the win coming off an 8-run pummeling at the hands of the Boston Red Sox and the major league’s top scoring offense. Mixing in more change-ups and sliders, Manaea saw a modest strikeout total (3), but suffered far less solid contact. 

After the game, he said that his struggles in Boston pushed him to drive a bit harder during his recent bullpen session, throwing 55 pitches instead of 35, and focusing more on inside-outside fastball location. He also switched grips on the changeup, which he had largely gone away from in his previous two start.

Ditching the four-seam grip on the change, Manaea has gone to the one-seam grip that he leaned on in college:

“It feels a lot better in my hand. It feels like it’s coming out like a fastball, which I really like. I feel like I’m able to control it and throw it for strikes… It all came together today.”

Using the new changeup, which Melvin said looked much better, and improved control of the slider and fastball, the “Throwin’ Samoan” stranded the first two runners to reach base. He gave his offense a scoreless tie heading into the bottom of the fourth.

With one out in the frame, Billy Burns was hit by a pitch (3). After a hit and a walk, Khris Davis opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly (1) for his team-leading 22nd RBI. First baseman Billy Butler continued his recent resurgence with an RBI single (5).

Following a seventh-inning run from the Rangers, Semien sent a 1-2 fastball over the center field wall to stretch the lead back to two runs.

Said Semien:

“I’m happy to hit some home runs, of course, but I just want to win. I want to continue to put together at-bats that help us win.”

The shortstop was also impressed with the poise and execution from his rookie hurler:

“He had a good changeup to righties, he a good slider to lefties. He had a good, located fastball on both sides (of the plate). If he can (continue) to do that, he can be very successful in this league.”

After allowing the Rangers to finally scratch the scoreboard on a sacrifice fly from Drew Stubbs, Manaea handed the ball to Sean Doolittle (1-2, 3.60 ERA) and the bullpen nursing a one-run lead. A strike out of Bobby Wilson, and a scoreless eighth from John Axford (3-1, 3.18 ERA), gave way to save No. 11 by Ryan Madson (1-0, 1.02 ERA).

The AL West opponents will pick the rivalry back up on Tuesday for a 7:05 p.m. start.

Notes

Oakland plans to place back-up catcher Josh Phegley on the disabled list with right knee inflammation. His spot on the roster will be filled by pitcher Jesse Hahn (1-1, 3.00 ERA), who will make the start Tuesday against Texas ace Cole Hamels (4-0, 2.95 ERA).


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.