The A’s inched their spring record closer to .500 with their 5-3 victory over the Texas Rangers Tuesday afternoon in Mesa, which is actually quite good considering they broke a five-game losing streak on Sunday and two of their games have ended in ties.
It was also a good day for Oakland’s pitching, as starter Sean Manaea made his spring debut. Manea impressively retired the first two batters in the game on strikes and ended his two-inning outing with one hit, three strikeouts and two walks. He appeared a bit erratic when he allowed walks to Ryan Rua in the first and Ronald Guzman in the second, as well as throwing a wild pitch to Darwin Barney. Yet, that kind of thing is to be expected during a spring debut (unless you are named A.J. Puk, apparently).
Manaea put forth one the best performances (again, save for Puk) that an A’s starting pitcher has had all month, which must be music to the team’s ears, given how the rest of the rotation has struggled.
The Rangers took an early 1-0 lead in the third, when former-Athletic Trevor Plouffe homered to left off of lefty Eric Jokisch. Meanwhile, our old friend Bartolo Colon, now-turned-potential-divisional foe, pitched relatively well on the mound for the Rangers. He allowed two runs on five hits to the A’s. His day ended after 2.2 innings of play after he gave up a ground-rule double to Matt Olson that allowed Khris Davis to score and put the A’s ahead 2-1.
Reliever Emilio Pagan, who was acquired by the A’s from the Seattle Mariners in the Ryon Healy trade, pitched a hitless fourth inning. Still, the Rangers came back to regain the lead in the game scoring two runs off of Andrew Triggs in the fifth inning. Triggs went on to pitch strongly through the eighth inning and was rewarded with a win for his efforts.
With the Rangers still ahead 3-2 going into the bottom of the eighth inning, the A’s managed to plate the necessary two more runners, on yet another home run by Anthony Garcia (team-leading third of the spring) and consecutive singles from Nick Martini, Mark Canha, and Nick Noonan, all off of Rangers reliever Ricardo Rodriguez.
The top of the ninth went smoothly for the A’s number two prospect left-hander Jesus Luzardo. He allowed a single to leadoff hitter Mike Ohlman but stuck out Guzman and retired Michael De Leon and Luis Martin to end the game, securing himself the save and the A’s their fourth victory.
Overall, it was a good day for the Athletics who finally seemed to find some really solid pitching and a good amount of offense (even mostly sans homers) to be able to take the game from Texas.
However, the real excitement we were waiting for never made it out of the batter’s box. The A’s number four prospect, Jorge Mateo, came in as a pinch hitter for catcher Josh Phegley to lead off in the fifth inning. His day ended in him going 0-2 with a strikeout.
Still, he did participate in a double play with first baseman Matt Olson in the fifth. As far as spring debuts are concerned, the important part isn’t his results but rather the fact that he played at all. He hasn’t seen live pitching yet this year, and he’s been recovering from a knee injury, so don’t fret about his performance. It’s safe to assume that we will be able to see his 80-grade speed unleashed soon enough.