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Game Thread #7: Rangers at A’s

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MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics
Tonight, Manaea looks build off his strong first start
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Both the Rangers and the A’s have begun the 2018 campaign by dropping 4 out of their first 6 contests, making tonight’s game valuable for both teams. Game 3 of the four-game home series against the Rangers features two small forward’s on the mound, as the A’s send 6’5 Lefty, Sean Manaea (0-1, 1.17 ERA) to do battle against the Rangers 6’8 right-hander, Doug Fister (1-0, 1.80 ERA). Did you know that by Major League Rules, a standard pitching mound is 10 inches above the rest of the playing field? This makes Manaea turn into 7’3 auto mechanic turned basketball player, Mark Eaton, on the hill and Fister transform into a Sudanese basketball legend 7’6 Manute Bol (my all-time favorite Warrior).

I am not sure why you need to know this information going into tonight’s contest, but to be honest, I was simply looking for a way to mention both Mark Eaton and Manute Bol in my inaugural Game Thread of 2018. Eaton and Bol are two of the most interesting characters to ever play in the Association.

Speaking of characters, the veteran Fister is an interesting one as well. He runs 10 miles a day on days when he isn’t pitching. Last year he was accused by the Yankees of cheating by having an earpiece in his ear while he was in the dugout in order to transmit signs from the video room to Red Sox batters. Fister claimed the earpiece was simply a mouth guard (see Steph Curry) and he was innocent.

Fister grew up in Central California as a diehard A’s fan and always has a contingent of family and friends cheering him on at the Coliseum. He pitched at Merced Community College, the alma mater of one of the all-time best player names in A’s history, Bill Mooneyham. Mooneyham was a 1st round pick of the A’s in 1980 out of Merced CC and ended up pitching in only one big league season (4-5, 4.52 ERA, 75 K’s in 1986) for the Green and Gold before returning to the Central Valley to be a junior high P.E. Teacher. As an 11-year-old, I had about 45 Mooneyham baseball cards in my 1986 Topps collection in my futile attempts to acquire a Jose Canseco rookie card.

Enough about Fister and Mooneyham, this game is really all about Sean Manaea. Manaea jumped out of the gates in start #1 of the 2018 season with a crisp fastball (90-93 mph) and excellent command of both his two and four seamed fastballs. Last year, Manaea struggled in the 2nd half (5.55ERA and .328 opponents’ batting average in his final 12 starts)

Much of Manaea’s 2nd half struggles were blamed on his reduced velocity. We heard lots of explanations for why Manaea’s velocity dropped, but just recently I came across a new theory. Manaea has admitted that his new A.D.D. Medication was suppressing his appetite for most of the 2017 season causing him to lose weight at an alarming rate, reducing his velocity and stamina throughout the year.

It seems like Manaea has figured out a better formula for the medication in 2018 and has his weight and appetite back at normal levels. Manaea’s hero growing up, was former two-time CY Young winner Johan Santana (Twins and Mets). With improved stamina and velocity, I predict a Johan Santana like season for Manaea, aka, the Baby Giraffe aka, DA Kid.

Here are tonight’s line-ups (first pitch at 7:05pm):

Today's Lineups

TEXAS RANGERS OAKLAND A'S
Shin-Soo Choo - DH Marcus Semien - SS
Joey Gallo - 1B Matt Joyce - LF
Elvis Andrus - SS Jed Lowrie - 2B
Adrian Beltre - 3B Khris Davis - DH
Nomar Mazara - RF Matt Olson - 1B
Robinson Chirinos - C Matt Chapman - 3B
Jurickson Profar - 2B Chad Pinder - RF
Ryan Rua - LF Bruce Maxwell - C
Carlos Tocci - CF Boog Powell - CF
Doug Fister - RHP Sean Manaea - LHP

For the love of Mark Eaton, Manute Bol, Bill Mooneyham and Johan Santana, here is hoping Manaea and the A’s pull out the victory in tonight’s ballgame. Let’s Go A’s!