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Game #150: Current Ace, Future Ace Combine for One Run

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MLB: Oakland Athletics at Texas Rangers Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

In the A’s final game ever at Globe Life Park, the team flexed some power and put a decent number of runs on the board. Perhaps more memorably, however, the A’s pitching staff completely shut down a strong Rangers’ offense, and the team was able to cruise to an easy 6-1 victory.

Game Thread #1 - Game Thread #2

Manaea had to labor to get through the first inning, after hitting Shin-Soo Choo and allowing a pop fly single to Elvis Andrus, but after throwing 25 pitches, he escaped the frame with runners on the corners and ultimately unscathed. Then he started to settle into his groove. Between the first and second innings, Manaea struck out three Rangers in a row. Between the third and sixth innings, only one Ranger reached base.

All in all, it was another superb day for Manaea. His fastball sat more in the 90-92 MPH range rather than the 92-94 MPH range like it had in his first couple of appearances, but he still used his stuff to the best of his abilities. He pitched six innings in total, allowing just three total hits and one walk, all the while allowing zero runs and striking out six.

In eighteen innings this season, Manaea has allowed just one run. His WHIP is 0.667. Somehow, it seems as if Manaea is even better than he was prior to his injury, and the bullets saved in his arm may make or break the A’s postseason run. Fortunately, once Manaea was removed from the game, a future ace and team leader took the mound, as was nearly as dominant.

In the meantime, the A’s offense had no answers against Rangers’ starter Jonathan Hernandez for the first few innings. His changeup and slider combination was completely baffling A’s hitters, and four A’s struck out in the first three innings. However, once the lineup turned over, Hernandez left a fastball right down the heart of the plate and Marcus Semien, with Robbie Grossman on first base, blasted it right back to straight away center field for a two run shot that gave the A’s a two run lead.

The home run was Semien’s 30th of the year, joining Matt Chapman and Matt Olson as the other members on the team with 30 big flies. Throw in a full time Mark Canha, and a healthy Khris Davis and a healthy Ramon Laureano, and this team potentially has six starters who are capable of hitting 30-plus home runs.

The A’s weren’t done in the inning, however. A walk of Olson spelled the end of the game for Hernandez, and he was replaced by Ian Gibaut. Gibaut walked Canha immediately after entering, and the A’s were threatening once again. Seth Brown, the sole Athletic to get a hit off of Hernandez first time through, hit his second double of the game to bring in two more runs.

The Rangers escaped the inning without any more damage, and then, for a while, Joe Palumbo, who entered the game with an ERA above 11.00, flat out dominated the A’s hitters, and the game’s action died down. The game remained 4-0 until the top of the 6th, when Sean Murphy knocked in a run with an RBI single off of relief pitcher Brett Martin.

In relief of Manaea, the A’s brought in top prospect Jesus Luzardo for his second big league appearance. For two of his three innings, he was phenomenal. For one half of his three innings, he was not great. Though neither was Sean Murphy for that stretch, either.

Luzardo’s seventh inning was nearly perfect. The young lefty worked around a complicated play that resulted in a runner reaching first. The ball was hit just beyond the reach of Luzardo, who then had to scramble to first base to cover while Olson fielded the bounding ball. Luzardo failed to field the feed from Olson while trying to cover first, and the play went for an error on Olson. It was a hard luck error, but at the end of the day, nothing came of it, and the A’s continued to shut the Rangers out.

That shutout would end next inning, unfortunately. Trevino doubled to begin the frame, and an infield single to Semien put runners on the corners with nobody out. Then, either Luzardo completely lost focus or Sean Murphy did, because the A’s lefty then threw back to back passed balls that allowed the Rangers to get on the board. Both pitches looked catchable, and Murphy’s calling card has been his defense and ability to prevent these types of situations from occurring, so its not entirely certain what exactly happened on these two pitches.

It was probably some ultimately meaningless miscommunication.

Luzardo returned to the hill for the ninth inning, and he retired the side in order for his first career save. He probably won’t have many saves in his career, unless he takes a significantly different path than what is currently projected for him, so this was likely a fairly unique event.

The A’s complete the sweep of the Rangers, and finish 6-3 in Arlington for the season. Never again will the A’s play a game in Globe Life Park, as the Rangers will have a new home next season. Hopefully Khris Davis will be able to make the new park his own as well, as the Globe Life Park bandbox will be greatly missed by fans of the game everywhere.

But considering that this game was played in 95+ degree weather, its probably for the best that the Rangers are moving on to greener pastures.