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Manaea stuffs Tigers in Oakland return; A’s take series, hold ground in Wild Card race

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Sean Manaea made his first home start of the season Sunday afternoon, and showed off his best playoff push form.

After holding the Yankees scoreless on one hit over five frames last weekend in New York, Manaea recorded his first win of the year. The 27-year-old matched a career high with 10 strikeouts, holding the Tigers (42-100) to two hits and one run over seven impressive innings.

Bob Melvin was pleased with Manaea going seven innings, especially given the worn-down state of the A’s bullpen:

“Maybe for the first four innings in New York that is as good as we have seen him. Today, was really good again to start. Velocity looked like it was dropping a little bit then picked back up again. … To give us seven innings — I was planning on maybe six trying to increase the pitch count a little bit but he was able to give us seven, that was huge.”

Khris Davis offered all the offensive support Manaea needed, snapping an 0-for-18 slump with a two-run double in fourth to push the A’s (84-59) to a 3-1 series-clinching victory.

Davis was happy as always to be able to contribute to the teams win. Melvin on the biggest at bat of the game coming from a guy who has been struggling and hadn’t had a hit in 18 at bats:

“He has been a little bit of a struggle at this point but that is a big hit in the game … at that point in time you are looking for a sac fly at the worst. It carries out there and just misses being a home run. We have seen him do it so many times but regardless of whether it was a home run or not it was the key hit in the game.”

Manaea (W, 1-0, 0.75 ERA) underwent shoulder surgery last September, in two games back in the big leagues he has allowed three hits and one run while striking out 15 in 12 innings.

He said he felt great after the sixth inning:

“It is amazing. I have been thinking about this for a while, to throw seven innings like that was huge. It was just something I was really looking forward to. … I was a little tired toward the end but I had a little more endurance than I did at the start of the Yankees game.”

Through the first four innings, the only Tigers to reach base came in the form of back-to-back walks in the first inning. The rally for free amounted to nothing though, with Manaea sending the other three batters he faced packing on swinging strikeouts.

Detroit finally tagged the A’s starter with his first run allowed of the year on a Christin Stewart solo homer (9) opening the fifth.

The A’s didn’t wait for the fifth to get their scoring started.

Capitalizing on a Marcus Semien lead-off double, Oakland got out to an early advantage in the very first inning on the strength of a Mark Canha RBI groundout.

Canha was once again in the middle of a rally in the fourth, setting things with a one-out single up the middle. Chad Pinder followed with a single of his own. Then Davis, who had last recorded a hit on Sept. 1, came three feet shy of a three-run homer, settling for a two-run double.

Detroit starter Daniel Norris (L, 3-12, 4.72 ERA) lasted just three innings, finishing the game with two strikeouts.

Manaea, who needed just six pitches to finish off a perfect seventh inning, gave way to Yusmeiro Petit in the eighth.

Petit, pitching for the first time since the death of his father in Venezuela, struck out a pair in a scoreless eighth. Upon entering the game, Petit received a standing ovation from fans, and fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera emerged from the Tigers dugout, point to Petit and patting his heart.

Said Melvin:

“This is the guy we are used to seeing him out there a lot, a little different circumstances this time. I was willing to go one plus with him again he has had a few days off but I am sure it was an emotional moment for him being out there that first time.”

Liam Hendricks (S, 19, 1.65 ERA) struck out one in a perfect ninth putting the finishing touches on a two-hour, 14-minute Oakland pitching masterpiece.

On Deck

The A’s fly out to Houston to play the Astros, beginning Monday. Mike Fiers (14-3, 3.51 ERA) will face Zack Greinke (14-5, 3.09 ERA) in the series opener.

Game Notes

Matt Olson snapped a 10-game hitting streak, going 0-for-3 with a hit by pitch. … Marcus Semien went 2-4 with a stolen base. … Chris Bassitt, who struck out 11 Saturday night, and Sean Manaea are the first A’s pitchers to have back-to-back 10 plus strikeouts since 1971.

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