In his last six starts, Sean Manaea has lowered his ERA from 6.20 to a now respectable 4.61.
In the latest gem added to his month-long run of success, Manaea matched Jake Odorizzi (ND, 4-5, 4.10 ERA) of the Tampa Bay Rays (38-58) in an epic pitcher’s duel, tossing eight scoreless and leading his team to the 1-0 13-inning victory Friday night.
Fellow rookie Ryon Healy finished the job on the offensive end, smacking a double — the only extra-base hit of the game — into the left-field corner with a 109 mph exit velocity, sent in two hitters later by outfielder Coco Crisp. John Axford (W, 4-3, 4.95 ERA) was credited with the win for the A’s (43-54), tossing a pair of scoreless frames. Dylan Floro (L, 0-1, 4.15 ERA) took the loss.
Manager Bob Melvin said that the performance was the best yet from his rookie hurler:
“He’s pitched some good games, but not like that — that’s the best. … When we heard about out best pitching prospect coming up, that was the tight of game you look for. That was dominating.”
Not only did Manaea (ND, 3-5, 4.61 ERA) carry a perfect game into the fifth, he entered the frame having allowed just one well struck ball — a line out off the bat of Logan Forsythe leading off the game.
With two down in the inning, however, one of the weak grounders snuck through the right side of the infield, giving designated hitter Corey Dickerson Tampa’s first hit. Tim Beckham followed immediately with an infield single, presenting the game’s first threat. But more weak contact from Kevin Kiermaier resulted in a threat-ending ground out to first baseman Yonder Alonso, who had to step in front of the first-base bag and make a quick swipe tag to get the out.[envira-gallery id=”194276″]
Continuing to remove the sting from the Rays bats, the “Throwin’ Samoan” gave up lone singles in the sixth, seventh and eighth.
In his eighth and final inning of work, Manaea allowed a base runner to reach third for the first time, as Luke Maile followed a Kiermaier single with a sacrifice bunt, but a pair of innocent fly-ball outs — the first moving the Tampa center fielder to third — closed the book on the threat and the rookie.
The starter, who said he had all three pitches working, left his pre-game warmups uncertain:
“The bullpen, before (the game), was kind of iffy. The changeup didn’t fell that good out of my hand, the slider was just OK. Sometimes that happens.”
The bats took a stab at giving the youngster a win in the bottom of the eight, when Ryon Healy followed an error landing Alonso on first with a single into the left-center field gap. Pinch hitting, Danny Valencia worked the count full before popping out, leaving the go-ahead run at third.
“You can’t really let it frustrate you too much. You understand and respect the game — that these guys are really good up here. Especially when you watch someone pitch like Sean Manaea tonight, you understand that guys just have their stuff sometimes.”
Since June 7, Manaea has given up 10 runs in 35 innings (2.57 ERA). He is 1-1 in that stretch.
The 24-year-old lefty also finished his night having refrained from issuing a walk for a third consecutive outing — striking out 17 over 20 innings in the period.
He said thathis performance was aided by the work of his opposition:
“Odorizzi pitched a hell of a game. It was pretty easy to have everything going, not having much time in the dugout. You didn’t really have time to think.”
A tight two hours and 15 minutes after first pitch, the game headed into extra innings.
The game’s first extra-base hit did not come until the bottom of the 13, when Healy led off the 13th.
The third baseman said, thanks to hitting coach Darren Bush, he was prepared for the at-bat:
“I got a pitch I can handle, and I finally didn’t miss it. I’ve been missing a lot of pitches the last two nights, so it was very satisfying to not miss one and help the team win.”
The double proved to be exactly what the A’s needed, as he scored the winning run on Crisp’s single.
Crisp said, of his eighth career walk-off hit — sixth as an Athletic:
“Everybody was ready to get out of there. Both teams — pitchers, hitters, everybody — wanted the next day to come about. We don’t want to be out here all day.”
After winning the marathon game, in which Melvin shifted his starting lineup, the skipper was able to jokingly take the blame:
“That was a key time to come up with a lineup change — we go 12 innings without scoring. (I’ll) probably do something a little different tomorrow.”
Manaea’s fellow red hot hurler Kendall Graveman (6-6, 4.25), who is 4-0 in his last five starts, will climb the hill for Saturday night’s third game of the series. He will look to continue his run against Drew Smyly (2-11, 5.64 ERA), who has fallen in each of his last four starts.