Oakland's top-pitching prospect powered his way through Midland, and left an ever-lasting impression in Nashville -- as the 24-year-old right-hander put up "videogame-esque" like numbers prior to making his major league debut on April 29 against the Houston Astros.
When the 2013 former first-round pick toed the rubber at the Coliseum, reality set in, and Manaea looked masterful through the first five frames -- surrendering just one run (via the long ball courtesy of Evan Gattis) and three hits, along with three punch outs before Manaea ultimately unraveled in the sixth; and coughed up three more runs, before Yonder Alonso saved the day and launched a majestic three-run shot into the right-field bleachers in the bottom of the ninth-- resembling a feat one could only contrive from a videogame.
The Indiana native looked even sharper against the Seattle Mariners in his following start in Oakland, as he opposed Felix Hernandez and put on quite a show, despite the fact that Hernandez has owned the A's since... well, forever. But that wasn't the case on May 4 when the green and gold offense tagged him for eight runs in four innings.
Just like his major league debut, Manaea unraveled under pressure and surprisingly, so did the A's bullpen as they found themselves on other end of a one-run loss. Personally, I saw a young starter making strides in the right direction concluding a three-game sweep against Oakland's Pacific Northwest counterparts. One pitch, one strike, one call could've been the difference of six solid frames without surrendering a run; and that presumably would've been enough assurance for A's fans that Manaea was in fact the real deal -- heading into the second game of three at Fenway Park.
Unfortunately, when you're hot, you're hot; and Boston's offense even to this day has been rolling on all cylinders. Five pitches into the ball game, Mookie Betts capitalized on a 79 MPH hanging-slider over the Green Monster. Shortly after, Hanley Ramirez took the south paw deep; and before you know it, Manaea was tagged with an eight spot -- on 41 pitches (31 for strikes) when he was replaced by Daniel Coulombe later in the frame.
After the game, Manaea addressed his concerns with A's beat writer Jane Lee:
"I was just leaving the ball out over the middle, and they were taking advantage of it," Manaea said. "I felt like I was maybe getting inside, but looking back on it, I was pretty much throwing right down the middle. It's frustrating, because I know I'm a lot better than this."
For the A's top-pitching prospect to be successful against the Rangers tonight, he's going to have to slow the game down and think about what he's going to throw, before he rears back and throws it. The lefty's off-speed stuff has gradually improved over the last few weeks; but it's obviously going to take some time before Manaea is exuberating the same poise and confidence at the major league level, similar to his outstanding performances in the minors.
"I should have done a better job of slowing things down," Manaea said. "I felt like I was trying to rush things, get through the fifth inning, get things done quick. I got those two quick outs. That's kind of what I was thinking. I should have stepped back a little bit and taken a deep breath."
Without further ado, here are tonight's starting lineups:
|TEXAS RANGERS||OAKLAND A'S|
|Rougned Odor - 2B||Coco Crisp - LF|
|Elvis Andrus - SS||Billy Burns - CF|
|Nomar Mazara - RF||Josh Reddick - RF|
|Adrian Beltre - DH||Danny Valencia - 3B|
|Ian Desmond - CF||Khris Davis - DH|
|Ryan Rua - 1B||Billy Butler - 1B|
|Drew Stubbs - LF||Marcus Semien - SS|
|Bobby Wilson - C||Matt McBride - C|
|Hanser Alberto - 3B||Tyler Ladendorf - 2B|
|Derek Holland - LHP||Sean Manaea - LHP|
Along with a clean-cut Manaea, ready to take the mound against the Rangers -- while setting his sights on his first of many major league victories.
Here is clean cut Sean Manaea: pic.twitter.com/4XPeFzShBt— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) May 14, 2016
LETS PLAY BALL!