A very common refrain from the radio feed of today’s game versus the Indians was "Don’t think about the score." Every team has an embarrassingly ugly game or two during spring training, and today was one of those games for the A’s.
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Sean Manaea took the mound for his second appearance of spring training. In his brief appearance, Manaea fell behind all but one batter, was constantly in trouble, and gave up consistent hard contact against an Indians’ offense that was resting a large percentage of its starters. Four of the first five hits on the day for the Indians were scorched for doubles, as Manaea’s fastball had no deception or movement. In an outing that was rather reminiscent of his forgettable start at Boston last season, Manaea could last only 1.2 innings before reaching his pitch limit.
Relief wouldn’t come for Manaea as the star-studded contingent of Josh Smith, Zach Neal, and Cesar Valdez pitched 4.1 combined innings in which they surrendered eleven hits, half of them for extra bases, and eight runs. However, with the exception of Zach Neal if injuries mount up, none of those highly originally named players should see much time in an A’s uniform this season.
With the game already far out of reach, Bobby Wahl continued to throw darts this spring, netting himself another strikeout in one inning of work to leadoff his frame. While Wahl, like every pitcher before him, coughed up an extra base hit, this one to longtime backup Erik Kratz, he actually managed to not allow the runner to score. Despite uncorking a wild pitch to allow Kratz to stroll to third, he induced a weak ground ball to escape the inning unharmed.
Following Wahl was fellow prospect Heath Fillmyer, who got off to a strong start in his inning of work after getting an early strikeout. However, the wheels quickly fell off for Fillmyer as well, as a single and a walk set up a 2-RBI double to prospect Eric Stamets. Before getting out of the inning after the damage was already done, Fillmyer walked one other batter. Tucker Healy pitched a scoreless ninth to put the pitching staff out of its misery. He had one walk and two strikeouts in his appearance.
The offense was never given a chance to succeed in today’s game, but with the Indians’ lineup taking advantage of the thin desert air, a couple of A’s sluggers looked to throw their hats into the fray as well. Jed Lowrie doubled in the bottom of the first inning to give the A’s their first hit of the game, and Khris Davis worked a count and hit an opposite field single to drive him home. However, the offense would go cold again for the next handful of innings while the Indians’ ran up the score.
One particular standout on offense was Renato Nunez, who wasn’t even scheduled to start today. However, because Matt Chapman stubbed his toe and broke his nail, the A’s brass felt it best to rest him today (Chapman, to his credit, wanted to start regardless). In his first at bat Nunez made a loud out to deep center field that threatened to leave the yard. In his final at bat, he actually left the yard for a two run shot hit to deep left field, his second hit and third hard-hit ball of the game. While Nunez remained shaky on his third base defense, particularly on his throws to first, there does not appear to be any conceivable way Nunez would ever play third base on the major league roster, and looks to get significant playing time in left field in Nashville this year.
While Chad Pinder’s prospect shine has dimmed quite a bit after his first look in the show, today he demonstrated why he was formerly a top-rated prospect with a good bat at premium defensive positions, as he connected on a former A’s-minor-league-pitching-filler Travis Banwart’s offering to hit a home run of his own.
The A’s hit for good power in today’s game, scoring five runs on ten hits, of which half of their hits were either doubles or home runs. While Sean Manaea and Heath Fillmyer struggled, it is still early in spring training, and the pitchers’ who gave up the lion’s share of hard contact and runs allowed will only be seeing significant playing time in Oakland in a disaster-type scenario. Today’s game was ugly, and long, but it is thankfully just spring training, and early on in spring training at that.
Tomorrow the team is taking on Felix Hernandez and the Mariners while the A’s will look to bounce back behind Jharel Cotton.
A’s lose 15-5.