The beneficiary of the offensive explosion, Sean Manaea, lasted six innings in the win. Holding the Mariners (60-54) without a hit into the fifth, Manaea led the way to the four-hitter, which was sealed by closer Ryan Madson (4-4, 3.51 ERA) who recorded save No. 25.
The A’s (52-64) jumped on Joe Wieland, making his season debut, for three runs in the first and three more in the sixth, handing him a loss.
Manager Bob Melvin said that the win is particularly special, given Seattle’s recent run:
“They are a very hot team. They’ve won six in a row and put themselves right in the thick of the Wild Card race. … It’s a good team, and it’s a good win for us.”
While Oakland got yet another solid outing from the young starter, Friday night’s win came riding the broad backs of the heart of their lineup.
Marcus Semien, Stephen Vogt and Khris Davis — batting second, third and fourth — combined to go 8-for-12, with all six runs and three RBIs. Although the offense received little from the bottom half of the order, the top half was an instant rally, getting started immediately.
With the first of his career-high tying four hits, Semien lined a one-out single to left in the first. Vogt brought in his shortstop with a double, then was knocked in on an opposite-field home run (28) from Davis.
On an 0-1 fastball from Wieland (L, 0-1, 10.80 ERA), Davis tucked a towering fly ball neatly into the fourth row of seats in the right-field corner — as opposed to his normal gargantuan blast into the power alleys.
The blast gave “Khrush” a career high in big flies. He said:
“It’s definitely a goal of mine to get better every year. I’m glad that, first and foremost, the team won on the night.”
“I have more work to do.”
The same trio was back at it in the fifth, answering a solo homer (22) from Kyle Seager. Again led by a Semien single, Vogt and Davis each followed with hits. Davis’, however, was no run-of-the-mill one-base hit.
Once again attacking behind in the count, the designated hitter pulverized a 1-2 changeup deep into left center. As the ball banged off the wall near the 388 marker, Semien was able only to advance from second to third, looking to tag up and move to third if the ball was caught.
His base running gaffe loaded the bases for Yonder Alonso. The first baseman, who Melvin said has been the team’s best hitter for several weeks, came through with another clutch hit, singling in two.
Alonso is now 5-for-8 (.625) with nine RBIs with the bases juiced.
Struggling with his command, Manaea (W, 4-7, 4.57 ERA) issued a free pass to the first batter in each of the first three innings. He did not fall victim to the lead-off walk, which scores about 38 percent of the time, however. Instead, the rookie left-hander capped each frame with an inning-ending double play.
The starter said:
“Today was just one of those days — body felt good and it wasn’t a mechanics thing, just wasn’t coming out of my hand well. … I felt like I did an OK job with pushing through it, and battling and just getting outs.”
Control issues did not hurt Manaea until the fifth when Seager, who came into the at-bat 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against the “Throwin’ Samoan,” lined a 3-2 changeup just inside the foul pole and over the fence in right for a solo homer.
The M’s pounced on the 24 year-old in the sixth, posting two hits and two runs 11 pitches into the inning. Manaea, as he has been able to do since the end of May, re-collected himself to get the All-Star duo of Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz to get out of the frame with limited damage.
The skipper said that the command issues were the key reason for his being lifted after just six innings and 75 pitches. He added:
“He battled. These are the types of learning experiences for young pitchers that are actually good for them: they don’t have their best command, they have to battle themselves a little bit, at the end of the day he comes out after six innings with three runs — good performance.”
Since his first month in the big leagues Manaea, who allowed three hits and three walks while striking out four, boasts a 3.48 ERA and 1.18 WHIP while striking out 8.2 per nine innings.
Of his his four-hit evening, Semien said:
“I felt great — hit four balls pretty hard. It’s the goal every night. It’s not going to happen every night, but you work hard every day to do that.”
Kendall Graveman (8-7, 4.29 ERA) will put his hard work and 5-1 five-week run on the line against Hisashi Iwakuma (13-7, 3.79 ERA), who brings a 3.83 ERA in 13 career games against the A’s, in Saturday’s Star Wars fireworks night.