It wasn't until the series finale in Cincinnati that the green and gold's bats truly came alive, for their first and only win of their eight-game road trip. The offense played a big factor on get-away day, and they subsequently carried that momentum into tonight's series opener against the Texas Rangers, as demonstrated by their 14-5 win in front of the Oakland faithful. Khris Davis led the charge with a three-run home run off of Rangers south paw Cesar Ramos in the bottom of the third; and by the time the night was over -- he racked up five RBI, despite the fact that he's battling an elbow issue.
Sean Manaea leaves game in the fifth with a left pronator muscle strain
Manaea looked to bounce back against the Rangers on Monday night, after surrendering two moonshots to Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Chris Carter in his last outing -- Oakland's top pitching-prospect hoped to replicate an equally impressive performance in which he recorded his first win of his major league career by holding Texas' offense to just one run over 6 2/3 innings on May 16 at the Coliseum, while punching out three.
The 24-year-old looked very impressive in his first four frames of work, as demonstrated by five strikeouts through four innings, as he reared back with his fastball, snuck in a sweeping slider, and deceived the opposition with a devastating change-up that kept Texas off-balance. Manaea looked absolutely masterful on the mound (despite a couple of defensive blunders) and proved to A's fans why he is a force to be reckoned with as he's slowly, but surely settling into the big leagues very nicely.
Everything was going swimmingly for the south paw, that was until the top of the fifth rolled around, when Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo launched a mammoth shot to center field and Manaea moments later was seen clutching his left forearm before being replaced by Daniel Coulombe.
It wasn't until a few frames later that Manaea was diagnosed with a left pronator muscle strain. But what caught me off guard was when the 24-year-old admitted to the press after the game that his forearm has bothered him a couple of times this season, and he continued to feel discomfort in his most recent bullpen session. Manaea will have a MRI, but until then I'm sure A's fans will be holding their breath -- considering the bright future the Indiana native is expected to have in Oakland's rotation for many years down the road.
Oakland's offense comes alive in innings 3-4-5
After a leadoff walk to Coco Crisp, Danny Valencia reached base thanks to an infield miscue by Rangers third baseman Jurickson Profar -- who attempted to throw out Crisp at second base, but ultimately failed to do so as the 36-year-old reached the bag before the defense could put down a tag. With runners on first and second with one away, Davis stepped into the batter's box and did what Khris Davis does best -- which is connect on a 2-0 fastball that made its way over the left field scoreboard for his 15th round tripper of the campaign, increasing Oakland's lead to four.
After surrendering free passes to Billy Butler and Jake Smolinski -- sandwiched in between a single to left field by Josh Phegley, Yonder Alonso was able to plate the A's fifth run of the contest by slapping a sac-fly to left fielder Ryan Rua; unfortunately, his relay throw (along with several others) managed to catch Smolinski napping between first and second base to finally end the frame
Ramos made quick work of the A's in the bottom of the fourth, as he retired both Tyler Ladendorf and Crisp on five pitches. Thinking he was out of the woods, Marcus Semien ambushed the Los Angeles native by scorching a sharp single to center field and Oakland's offense presumably batted around for what seemed to be an hour -- thanks to an RBI single from Valencia, followed by a seeing-eye-single from Butler, and capped off by a laser-shot over the right-center field fence from Phegley -- giving the A's a 10-1 advantage
Still hungry for more offense?! I know I am! After a dismal eight-game road trip in which the A's racked up a total of 21 runs, and a horrid 1-7 record, the green and gold broke that cold-spell with four more runs in the fifth! Let me give you the rundown, it's pretty great.
Tom Wilhelmsen took over for Ramos in the fifth and was dealt the same hand as his counterpart when Ladendorf, Crisp and Semien all reached base on three consecutive singles to begin the frame. However, Wilhelmsen managed to record an out after Valencia grounded into a force out; but the carousel of craziness kept on moving along as Davis, Butler and Smolinski slapped three singles to the outfield, thus giving the A's a commanding 14-2 lead heading into the late frames.
What a relief! A's secure their 27th win of the season
Oakland's bullpen really stepped up on Monday night, after the departure of Sean Manaea in the top of the fifth. Daniel Coulombe made quick work of Ian Desmond and Profar, before getting tagged by a Rua two-run homer in the top of the sixth. Luckily, Coulombe calmed down and induced a few weak groundballs off of the bats of Prince Fielder, Elvis Andrus and Bobby Wilson concluding any chance of the Rangers getting back into this one.
A's long man Zach Neal brought this one home for the green and gold by pitching three solid frames of two-hit baseball, thanks to a combination of timely groundouts, fly-outs and putouts to ultimately secure the A's 27th win of the season and notch his first major league save of his career.
It was nice to see the back end of the A's bullpen come through, even though losing Manaea in the bottom of the fifth could be a major cause for concern. At first glance, it appeared that the lefty was clutching onto his left forearm; but it wasn't confirmed until a few innings later that the issue was centered around a pronator muscle strain -- similar to what Washington Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg was diagnosed with early in his career before eventually undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Further examination confirmed that there was no ligament damage to the affected area, just muscle. However, when his average fastball velocity dropped from 92.1 MPH to 89.7 MPH in the fifth, your mind can only drift off to the worst-case scenario. We won't know if Manaea will be placed on the disabled list for a significant amount of time; but if worse comes to worse -- Jesse Hahn is waiting in the wings in Nashville, as he is on the same turn as Manaea should he need to make an emergency start come Saturday.