Don’t mess with Texas, apparently.
The Oakland A’s went to Arlington looking to build on their hot streak, and instead lost two out of three games to the last-place Texas Rangers. The finale Sunday ended with a 7-4 defeat, with the Rangers in control for the entire afternoon.
Texas jumped all over A’s starter Sean Manaea, with a combination of legit hard contact and also plenty of luck, and the 1st inning offered examples of both factors.
Manaea got squeezed terribly against his first batter of the game, resulting in an undeserved walk. The next batter crushed a double, and the runner scored from first, but replay suggested he might really have been tagged out at the plate if Oakland had chosen to challenge (which they declined to do). Two batters later came a 460-foot moonshot homer. The double and dinger were for real! The walk and the play at the plate were not.
The Rangers scored again in the 2nd inning, when two batters hit nearly identical soft bloops into shallow right field for lucky doubles. Make contact and good things can happen! But that doesn’t change the fact that two 70-mph 150-foot flares in the same inning equal pure luck.
But then on the other hand, Manaea allowed two more homers. One of them was solo in the 3rd, and the other came in the 5th — the leadoff batter hit another weak bloop single, then the next two batters got out, then came the homer.
- Manaea: 5 ip, 7 runs, 5 Ks, 1 BB, 3 HR, 7 hits, 86 pitches, 90.6 mph EV
It’s not that he was good today. Clearly he got knocked around, and this is the first time he’s ever allowed three dingers in a regular season start. But he wasn’t quite this bad, and it’s also some consolation to see that he was still missing bats and striking out hitters and avoiding walks — again, his one free pass was incorrectly called by the ump, as Texas got an extra couple inches on the right-handed side of the plate all day. (That goes in the A’s favor sometimes, but today it didn’t.)
Perhaps more concerning is that this was Manaea’s third straight bad start. I’m not reading anything into that yet. His first shaky outing against the Padres gets a full mulligan because the third batter of that game hit Manaea in the leg with a 115-mph line drive. His second poor outing against the Indians was more about having trouble putting hitters away while they worked long counts. Today was bad but not as disastrous as it appeared.
Nobody is consistently awesome nonstop for an entire six-month season. Manaea’s velocity and spin rates were pretty much normal today, so there’s no specific reason to fear injury unless something new gets reported by the insiders. More likely this is just a routine slump in the dog days of August and the Texas heat.
Shake it off and go get ‘em next time, Manaealator!
Chapman stays hot
The A’s lineup only managed four runs, but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped rolling. They still banged out 10 hits plus a pair of walks, and they launched two homers but unfortunately both were solo. Nine pieces of contact went 100+ mph exit velocity, including three loud outs. Oakland blasted the ball today just like they’ve been doing all month.
In particular, Matt Chapman stayed hot. He started the afternoon with a homer, after going deep twice yesterday.
He finished the day 3-for-4, and none of his hits were cheap. Over his last six games, he’s now 8-for-17 with three homers, nine walks, and four strikeouts.
Unfortunately there was nobody on base for that dinger, and they didn’t scratch together anything else until the 6th inning, when there once against wasn’t anybody on base when Mark Canha went yard.
That’s Canha’s first homer since June 4, more than two months ago. That seems impossible but I checked several times to make sure. He went 181 plate appearances between dingers.
The hard-luck inning came in the 7th. Sean Murphy led off with a 102.7 mph liner that Statcast says falls for a hit 84% of the time, but this one was directly at a glove for a loud out. The next two batters singled sharply, both with triple-digit exit velos, and then Tony Kemp snuck a solid grounder through the right side for an RBI single.
A's are cookin up somethin ... pic.twitter.com/BiRLwXcvi0— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) August 15, 2021
Pinch-hitter Jed Lowrie struck out with two runners on base, which doesn’t happen often. That’s the spot to use Lowrie, but even the Professional Hitter doesn’t bat a thousand. Next up was Canha, fresh off homering with nobody on base last time up, and this time he smoked a 101.2 mph grounder that Statcast says goes through for a hit 62% of the time, but this one was directly at a glove for loud third out.
That inning was the A’s chance, and they hit the snot out of the ball five times. But sometimes it still doesn’t work out.
In the 8th, Murphy got a chance with a runner on base, and lined a double to right for an RBI. Chapman came up next but struck out, the only time he was retired all day.
For one final teAse in the 9th inning, Oakland put two runners on base and then Starling Marte did his best to tie it up with a dramatic homer but fell just short.
Dang I thought Marte was gonna tie this one up pic.twitter.com/iAty2lSay2— The Rickey Henderson of Blogs (@RickeyBlog) August 15, 2021
There are a hundred ways this collection of offense could have yielded more than four runs, but today it didn’t. Keep hitting like this and it’ll go better most days.
Even a great MLB team loses one-third of its games. The question after a loss is whether it provides reasons to worry or just a shrug of the shoulders and try again tomorrow.
For the most part, this was the latter. We’ll all be worried about Manaea until we see him have a good game again, but for now it sure looks like normal fatigue. Meanwhile the lineup is still awesome, with lots of hitters swinging hot bats. You hate to waste a chance against a last-place doormat like these Rangers, but as long as the A’s are playing like this we should continue to be excited about the next day.