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Game #47: Manaea Twirls a Gem; Wins Pitchers' Duel as A's Survive Ninth

Despite an admittedly strong performance by Masahiro Tanaka, who rebounded from his recent troubles to strike out 13 A's hitters in his 7.1 innings, Sean Manaea hung in there pitch for pitch, finishing seven innings of his own, striking out 8 Yankees while allowing just four hits. The A's rallied in both the eighth and ninth innings, and they'd need the entire cushion, as Santiago Casilla made things wildly interesting in the ninth.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

(tips head back, drains entire glass of wine)

Well, that was fun! It was no walk-off, but I'll take it. It's a win! It's a WIN! The A's beat the Yankees in Yankee Stadium tonight by the score of 4-1, in a game that was a whole lot closer than the score would lead one to believe. Manaea and Tanaka were aces through their seven innings of work, striking out a combined 21 batters, before the A's broke through. Singles by Lowrie and Khris Davis plated two in the eighth to set up Manaea for the win, and a huge home run (both in distance and in-game situation, after just missing one earlier in the night) by Stephen Vogt gave the A's the 4-0 lead, of which Casilla would test to the very tying run.

If you were to lay a bet on tonight's game, I'd wager that you'd have bet the Yankees, the best home team against the worst road team in a game in which the A's starter was scratched earlier in the day and replaced by an inconsistent starter in the form of Sean Manaea, making his start tonight instead of tomorrow. However, you'd have lost the best, and been pretty happy about it, since Manaea was absolutely nails tonight in his seven innings, keeping the game scoreless as the A's hitters struck out every single at-bat (well, more than half of their outs anyway), until they finally pulled together a rally in the eighth inning, after it seemed they'd be turned away yet again.

At one point in the game, Jed Lowrie hit 7-7 in his last 7 at-bats; he's on a tear. Tanaka started his game by striking out the side of Athletics, mixed around a Lowrie double. Manaea struck out two after his lead-off walk; in what would turn out to be his only walk of the game, and from there, we were off. The A's struck out twice in the second; the Yankees once. The A's struck out twice again in the third; the Yankees stranded a double. Sandwiched between two more strikeouts in the fourth, the A's made their opening move: one-out singles by Lowrie and Davis put two on, but a flyout by Healy and the closing strikeout by Plouffe ended the threat.

Meanwhile, after striking out two more Yankees, Manaea allowed a single to Aaron Judge with two outs in the fourth, but he immediately picked off the runner to end the inning. In what had to be a record, the A's didn't strike out once in the fifth, but no one could move Mark Canha after his double. Manaea struck out two Yankees' batters in the fifth to keep things rolling into the second half of the game, and Tanaka answered in the sixth with two strikeouts of his own. Manaea allowed a single in his half of the sixth, but struck out Matt Holliday to the inning. Stephen Vogt put a charge into a ball in the seventh, but it was caught at the wall to end the A's threat. And then added a little bit of catcher's interference just for fun. Reddick, is that you? The A's closed the inning--and Manaea's night--strong for the kid with a nifty double-play to end the inning, and Tanaka followed two batters later; ending his night in the eighth with a strikeout for good measure, and a seemingly-harmless one-out single to Adam Rosales.

Enter our old friend Tyler Clippard, who immediately helped his old team with a botched pick-off attempt; instead of getting Rosales at first, he threw the ball down the line to allow him to race around to third, firmly planted there with one out. But because A's, Rajai Davis weakly grounded out to third while Rosales took off, and he was thrown out at the plate for the A's second out. I would have sent him too; in a 0-0 tie, you have to take a chance at the score, and if anyone is to blame, it's Rajai Davis for not being able to hit. However, what he can do is run, so he made it up to the team with a stolen base, firmly planted at second base with two outs. Matt Joyce walked to put two on, bringing up Jed Lowrie, who is the batter the Yankees should have walked, TBH. I kid; Joyce's hard-fought at-bat was a major factor in the game. Lowrie singled to score the A's first run, and because he is a magical unicorn right now, also sent Joyce to third. And of all unexpected things, Khris Davis hit an infield single to score Joyce, and it was held up even under replay to give the A's a 2-0 lead.

Ryan Madson picked up right where Sean Manaea left off, striking out two of his three batters in his perfect eighth inning. And then the A's, as if they knew Santiago Casilla was lurking in the wings, decided to finish what they started. Jonathan Holder replaced Tyler Clippard and he was just as successful, allowing a single to Plouffe and pitching to Vogt, who just missed a home run earlier in the game. He did not miss this time: Vogt smashed a shot into the comfortable Spring New York evening, giving the A's a 4-0 lead and Manaea the win.

That's how it should have ended.

Don't worry, the A's still win, but it was more touch and go than all of us would have liked, as Casilla showcased his flair for the dramatic in the ninth. He committed the cardinal sin of walking the lead-off batter to start the inning, but did record a fly out to Matt Holliday. He then gave up a single to put runners on first and third and then walked the bases loaded, bringing up the tying run, and driving everyone who roots for the Oakland Athletics just bonkers. He escaped with a sacrifice fly and a pop-up, but not before I yelled, "Not on my Friday night!" at the TV, all the way to New York.

Let's just skip the pesky closer issue and be glad he had the four run lead. More importantly, the A's win the opener of the series, on the road in New York and look to take the series tomorrow with another win behind Jharel Cotton. What I'd like not to focus on is that Kendall Graveman and Jesse Hahn are both likely to go on the DL. That's tomorrow's problem. Tonight, let's enjoy the A's win, and a great opening to a long weekend.

We'll see you back here with tomorrow's game, an early-bird special at 10:00AM.