Manaea's first 7-inning start timely for A's

Lefty's scoreless gem comes as injuries ravage rest of rotation

Manaea's first 7-inning start timely for A's

NEW YORK -- Sean Manaea's performance in the Bronx on Friday evening was just as much exceptional as it was meaningful.

Manaea, winner of a 4-1 ballgame, wasn't even supposed to start the series opener against the Yankees. That task was for Kendall Graveman, who was scratched with shoulder soreness, the same injury that put him on the disabled list in April. Graveman is expected to go on the DL again soon. So is Jesse Hahn.

And so it goes for the A's, who have seen every member of their current rotation not named Andrew Triggs hit the DL at some point during the first eight weeks of play.

Manaea missed more than two of those weeks with a shoulder strain, and even when healthy, he's struggled to find consistency. The lefty may be on to something, though, after putting together another solid outing -- the latest his best yet.

Manaea escapes a jam in the 7th

Working in rhythm opposite Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka, who fanned a career-high 13 batters and allowed just one run over 7 1/3 innings, Manaea held his own, emerging as the victor with seven scoreless frames before the A's backed him with two runs in the eighth, and another two in the ninth.

"He was out there chucking it," outfielder Khris Davis said. "He's got that Chris Sale stuff where people are swinging and missing in the zone. Every outing he's settled down quicker."

"He comes from different arm angles, and he had his stuff going tonight," the Yankees' Chase Headley said. "He had all three pitches going."

The young southpaw racked up a season-high eight strikeouts, walking just one and yielding four hits in the 106-pitch display, which marked the first time this year he was able to complete seven frames. Only twice before, in seven tries, had he even gotten through six.

"For a young guy, we've leaned on him pretty hard since he's gotten here, but now probably a little bit more so," A's manager Bob Melvin said, "and it's the first time he's been over 100 pitches, too."

Manaea's first four pitches of the game were balls, but the free pass was hardly foreshadowing. He struck out each of his next two batters and would strike out four of six at one point.

That he's only issued one walk over his last two starts combined, spanning 12 innings, is telling; Manaea had walked 17 in his first 29 1/3 innings.

"I've been trying to deal with that the whole season, and I was finally just done with it," he said. "In my head, after that first batter, I just had a different mentality. I was thinking that these guys weren't going to hit me at all, and I just needed to throw strikes."

Said Melvin: "When he's had some trouble, it's usually been in the first inning, and he walks his first guy on four pitches, and after that he was as good as we've seen him all year."

Outings like Friday's are paramount to the A's success while they wait out the injury bug.

"For him to step up, come out and throw the way he did, obviously Tanaka was some kind of outstanding, and Manaea matched him, and it was huge for us," catcher Stephen Vogt said. "He was pitching with a lot of confidence, and that's what I love to see. He wanted the ball, he wanted to go back out there, he kept fighting."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.