Lefty scatters six hits, fires 5 2/3 scoreless frames
By Mark Chiarelli
OAKLAND -- A's starter Sean Manaea watched as his successful return from the disabled list -- and Oakland's three-run lead -- come perilously close to coming undone when the Giants' Mac Williamson hooked a liner down the left-field line with the bases loaded in the fourth inning.
But the ball curved foul, and an opportunistic Manaea took advantage of his second chance, inducing an inning-ending double play. Manaea wouldn't worry again, as a surging A's offense tacked on four runs in the bottom of the frame to comfortably guide Oakland to a 7-1 win and his third win of the season.
Manaea held San Francisco scoreless over 5 2/3 innings while allowing six hits and striking out four before departing following a two-out Buster Posey double. A's manager Bob Melvin pulled Manaea after just 83 pitches, saying the club determined prior to the start his limit was 85 pitches coming off a forearm strain.
Nonetheless, Melvin walked away impressed with his rookie starter.
"That was dominating stuff," Melvin said. "That's the stuff that you've heard about when the name Sean Manaea came up."
"That's been my No. 1 goal the whole season, to go deep in the games and take pressure off the bullpen," Manaea said. "I was on a pitch count, so I knew I had to be efficient with my pitches and get as many outs as I could."
Manaea's potential has been evident to the A's for quite some time, but his season took a frustrating turn when he abruptly left his June 13 start against the Rangers with a left forearm strain -- an injury the A's initially feared could indicate a more significant problem. Manaea was relieved to hear the injury was simply a muscle strain, and he was even more encouraged Wednesday night.
"I felt great," Manaea said. "I was kind of worried before the game about my forearm, but as the game went on, I didn't feel a thing. It was really good."
Manaea allowed at least one baserunner in four of his six innings, but he rarely labored outside of the fourth, and registered three of his four strikeouts in his final two innings. He wasn't bothered by lengthy waits in the third and fourth innings while the A's, due in part to several Giants defensive miscues, pushed seven runs across. The A's have scored six runs or more in six straight games and homered in eight straight games.
Manaea is now 3-4 and his ERA, which sat at 7.03 prior to June, is now at 5.30. Manaea flashed the mid-90s fastball and diving changeup that cemented him as one of the A's top prospects against the Giants, and he gave reason to believe he's continuing his recent upward trend.
"It's huge, especially up against the Giants, a really good team, going out and throwing up zeros is huge for me and for the team," Manaea said. "We're playing really good baseball right now, and we're just trying to get back to .500 and hopefully good things will come out."
Mark Chiarelli is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.