Manaea, Davis lead A’s to skid-ending win

Sean Manaea provided the legwork and Khris Davis did the heavy lifting as the Athletics labored their way clear of an eight-game losing streak.

Behind Davis’ 39th homer of the season, and 6 shutout innings from Manaea, Oakland (59-80) put to end their worst losing streak since 2012, also halting a five-game losing skid against the Angels (72-68), claiming a 3-1 victory Wednesday.

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

Manager Bob Melvin said that ending the scuffle takes a significant load off the shoulders of his young squad:

“We’ve played well, well enough to win a lot of these games. When you keep getting slapped in the face when you feel like you played well enough to win, and on top of that you have a losing streak that’s going on, there’s a lot of tension.”

Coming off what was the worst month of his young career, Manaea (W, 10-9, 4.33 ERA) recorded his second quality starts in as many attempts to begin September — though they have netted him a 1-1 record. This on the heels of a 1-3 August in which his ERA was a perplexing 9.17 and his WHIP was an equally incredulous 2.264.

Though the statistical positives were few and far between, Manaea told SFBay that learning his own weaknesses, particularly his on-mound mentality, has cultivated his growth.

Much like his 6-2/3 inning, three-run outing in Seattle last Friday, the second-year hurler was faced with base runners at nearly every turn, tossing just one perfect frame — a 12-pitch fifth. But, able to make the pitches when he needed, Manaea stranded six through 6 earning his second win since mid-July.

Manaea said:

“Changeup was huge today, got a lot of swing and misses and a couple ground-outs on it. Slider was there, it was kinda more of a show-me pitch … but just having that in the back of hitters’ minds, that I’m able to throw that pitch for a strike — a different look — is big.”

Despite his having thrown 103 pitches through 6, his skipper sent Manaea back to the mound to get things started in the seventh. He said, not knowing his own pitch count, he wasn’t sure why he was asked about his physical health after the sixth, saying he didn’t feel the physical toll taken on his body did not feel like he had surpassed the 100-pitch mark.

He added that he went into the start forcing himself into attack mode:

“I knew, going into this game, that I needed to go somewhat deep. I just kept telling myself that I was going to.”

Melvin joked about the fact that, heading into the game, he needed his Manaea to at least last into the seventh:

“I think I said, actually, ‘just walk out for the seventh inning,’ and he did walk out for the seventh. … That’s a significance difference, when you get six innings (from your starter).”

The starter needed to be rescued after letting the first two Angels reach. Melvin tapped human tourniquet Ryan Dull.

Dull (H, 16, 5.23 ERA) retired the first three he faced, getting a fly-out from Mike Trout to end the threat and give Manaea his first scoreless start since May 26 — when he tossed seven zeroes at the New York Yankees.

What was a pitchers’ duel between the Oakland lefty and his Los Angeles counterpart Tyler Skaggs (L, 1-5, 4.71 ERA) through three took its first turn in the fourth.

Davis, who was already credited with Oakland’s lone hit to that point, drove an 0-1 up and away fastball, handing his team a lead as his American League-leading 39th landed on the perch of the right field out-of-town scoreboard.

Said Melvin:

“Opposite field — that’s a line drive, for anybody else, it probably doesn’t even reach the wall, let alone go over it. You’re hoping, with anybody else, it gets over the right fielder’s head and with him it’s a homer. Pretty special talent, as far as the power goes.”

The A’s added on in the fifth, capitalizing on back-to-back one out hits from Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder before a two-out double from Davis scored two more.

The Angels didn’t get onto the board until the eighth, when a one-out single yielded by Dull was allowed to score, with two down, by Sam Moll (H, 3, 6.75 ERA) on a Kole Calhoun triple.

With Blake Treinen unavailable, having thrown 59 pitches in the past two days, Chris Hatcher (S, 1, 4.53 ERA) was called upon for the save, his first as an Athletic.

Said Manaea:

“Getting that win was huge. Hopefully we can keep this positive vibe going.”

On deck

Oakland gets a much-needed day of rest before welcoming the American League-leading Houston Astros (85-53) into town for a four-game weekend set. Jharel Cotton (7-10, 5.53 ERA) gets the ball in Friday’s game one facing Collin McHugh (2-2, 3.25 ERA), who is 7-1 with a 2.73 ERA in 10 career starts against the A’s.

Notes

Khris Davis’ solo home run in the fourth was No. 39 of the season, giving him the American League lead. It also puts him one away from the first Oakland Athletic to homer 40 or more times in back-to-back seasons, and first “A” since Jimmie Foxx, who topped 40 in 1932, ’33 and ’34. … After seeing his ERA balloon nearly 3/4 of a run, from 3.82 ERA to 4.55, in August, Sean Manaea has trimmed nearly 1/4 run, down to 4.33, through his first two September starts. … After a seemingly unprovoked exchange between Matt Chapman and Angels catcher Juan Graterol, the A’s third baseman was ejected by home plate umpire Mike Everitt. This was the first ejection of Chapman’s major league career. Chapman said about the confrontation:

“I think the Angels were under the impression that we were stealing their signs.”

He added:

“I wanted to stand up for my teammates and stand up for myself. Even though we are a young group of guys, I feel that we deserve to be treated just like anybody else in the big leagues and respected by out opponent.”


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