Despite having ace Sean Manaea on the mound the A’s were unable to take the series from the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night at Safeco Field in Seattle. The Mariners won the series two games to one, defeating the A’s in the final game by a score of 4-1.
Overall, A’s starter Sean Manaea pitched well. He had a few control issues at times and after his last three or even his first six starts of the season, it is possible to be critical in comparison. Manaea came into tonight’s game having not allowed more than two runs in any of his previous six starts of the 2018 season. Holding the 26-year-old, who is starting just his second full big league season, to those virtually impossible standards is unrealistic. Manaea allowed four runs on six hits, which isn’t even his highest hit total in a game this season, no walks and struck out five batters in six innings of work. The Mariners runs came at the hands of a red-hot Dee Gordon who went 3-4 with two stolen bases, Robinson Cano who drove Gordon in for a run in the first inning and again in the bottom of the third inning. The Mariners’ only other runs came on a two-run home run in that same bottom of the third by Nelson Cruz.
Looking at it that way, Manaea only allowed a hit to one other player, Mitch Hangier, meaning he otherwise had complete control over the remainder of the Mariners’ lineup. Giving up hits to Gordon, who prior to tonight was hitting .342 with a .368 on-base percentage and (is likely still) leading the league in stolen bases with 12, eight-time All-Star Cano and well-known power hitter Cruz is not an unlikely occurrence and could happen to any starter in the league at anytime. Manaea may not have been as sharp as usual but he pitched a strong six-inning outing.
The A’s Offense:
The A’s offense started slow and never really got going. The were able to get just three hits off of Mariners’ starter Wade LeBlanc. LeBlanc allowed singles to Khris Davis to lead off the top of the second, Chad Pinder to lead off the third and Jed Lowrie with one out in the fourth. The A’s got runners on in what could have been a win-able game, but they simply could move them around to score against LeBlanc.
The A’s got some stronger hits off of the Mariners’ bullpen but still not enough to secure the game and the series. Chasen Bradford relieved LeBlanc to pitch the fifth and gave up a solo-home run to Stephen Piscotty, his second of the season, on a belt-high first pitch four-seam fastball. James Pezos relieved Bradford in the seventh and was relieved by Juan Nicasio to start the eighth inning. He got pinch-hitter Matt Joyce, who entered the game in place of Chad Pinder, to strikeout but then allowed a double to Johnathan Lucroy giving the A’s a chance. Unfortunately, once again the A’s offense was unable to get the runner home, as Marcus Semien and Mark Canha both struck out to end the inning.
The A’s got one more chance in the top of the ninth as Lowrie lead off with his second hit of the night but Khris Davis then grounded into a double play and Matt Chapman struck out to end the inning. The A’s have a great lineup. They have and can score runs without necessarily hitting home runs but in the past two games that just hasn’t been the case.
The A’s bullpen was solid tonight as rookie Lou Trivino took over for Manaea to pitch the seventh. He put forth yet another stellar scoreless outing. Trivino has now begun his big league career allowing just eight hits and one run in eight innings pitched over six appearances, Santiago Casilla got the A’s safely out of the top of the eighth without allowing a hit and striking out Kyle Seager to end the it.
The A’s usually strong offense just never got it going against the Mariners’ pitching Thursday night but the A’s pitching was solid. This was a win-able game for Oakland but they needed to be able to push runs across the plate without the help of the long ball. This time they just couldn’t seem to string their hits together.
With the American League’s worst-record-holding Baltimore Orioles heading in to town this weekend, the A’s will need to take full advantage and hopefully sweep the series as their schedule gets a lot tougher beginning by hosting the Houston Astros early next week. They then head off on a long east coast road trip to face the best of the tough AL East: New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.