Sean Manaea made a statement against his former organization and team Tuesday, allowing two unearned runs on seven hits over a career-high eight innings as Double-A Midland defeated Northwest Arkansas, 5-2, to open the Texas League finals. The A's No. 3 prospect issued two walks and struck out seven in the outing, throwing 68 of his 100 pitches for strikes.
Acquired from the Royals at the Trade Deadline as part of the Ben Zobrist deal, Manaea has been nothing short of dominant since joining Midland's starting rotation, going 6-0 with a 1.90 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 51 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings over seven regular-season starts.
The 23-year-old lefty was particularly great in his final regular-season outing for the RockHounds, striking out a career-high 13 batters over six scoreless innings against San Antonio. More importantly, Manaea's second-half success has carried over into the playoffs.
In his previous postseason start, on Sept. 10, Manaea yielded two earned runs and fanned eight over seven innings against Corpus Christi in the Texas League semifinals. Between both outings, the Indiana State product has a combined 1.20 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 15 innings.
Northwest Arkansas scored both runs in the top of the third inning courtesy of a throwing error by shortstop Wade Kirkland and a wild pitch from Manaea, but that would be the extent of their success against the talented southpaw.
Outfielder Jaycob Brugman paced Midland's offense with another big game with a solo home run as part of a 1-for-3 performance. The A's No. 21 prospect has homered in three consecutive games dating back to the previous series, and he's now 6-for-12 with five runs scored and six RBIs in four postseason games. No. 2 prospect Matt Olson also contributed in the win, going 1-for-4 with a double and run scored, while No. 6 prospect Renato Nunez produced an RBI single in the third inning.
Northwest Arkansas will host Midland on Wednesday for game two of the best-of-five series, with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 PM EST.
Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.