OAKLAND — A 26-minute top of the first pretty much decided the outcome Saturday night at the Coliseum.
One big issue was left unresolved, however, by the time the A’s 12-5 loss to Baltimore finally wrapped:
What exactly is wrong with Sean Manaea right now?
The lefty faced just seven batters, giving up a walk and then six hits in a row, before A’s manager Bob Melvin called on his bullpen way earlier than he could have anticipated. The Orioles plated seven runs by the time the A’s finally returned to their dugout to bat for the first time.
The rest of the night was just filler for a crowd of 29,742 that at least had a postgame fireworks show to look forward to.
This was the third consecutive poor start for Manaea (8-7), and by far the most troubling of them. The only out recorded while he was on the mound came on a 7-6-2 putout at home plate on Adam Jones’ double.
The Orioles put good wood on anything he threw near the plate. Melvin suggested after Manaea’s previous two outings that it was merely fatigue that the lefty was fighting through. But the fact that Manaea’s fastball started out in the 88-89 mile-per-hour range Saturday, and topped out at just 91, left it open as to whether something might be bothering him physically.
The second-year starter was dialed in during an 11-start stretch from May to mid-July during which he went 7-2 with a 2.92 ERA. But over his past five outings, he is 0-2 with a 9.31 ERA and a .400 opponents’ batting average.
It was another night Saturday when the bullpen phone rang way too early. Six times over the past 15 contests A’s starters have completed fewer than four innings. Michael Brady at least kept things manageable for Melvin, relieving Manaea and eating up 5 1/3 innings while allowing three runs.
The Orioles finished with 20 hits and eight doubles, one shy of the franchise record.
There were however a few developments for A’s fans to cheer as they passed the time until fireworks. Khris Davis connected for his 32nd homer, a two-run shot to center in the first. Matt Olson went deep for the second night in a row.
Center fielder Boog Powell also had an active night in his A’s debut. After being scratched from Friday’s lineup following an asthma attack that sent him to the emergency room, Powell walked and singled in his first two plate appearances before striking out in his final three at-bats. He made a great throw to second to nail Mark Trumbo on the slugger’s base hit off the wall in center. Credit to Olson, the first baseman, for covering second base and being there to make the tag.