Stability has been in short supply for the A’s starting rotation this season.
There have been injuries, inconsistent stretches and necessary trips to the minor leagues.
Sean Manaea used to qualify as one of the question marks on Oakland’s staff. Lately he’s the answer.
After a tough walk-off loss in the opener of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays, the A’s came through with a crisply played 7-2 victory in the nightcap to earn a split at Tropicana Field. Manaea poured the foundation for the victory with seven strong innings, holding the Rays to two runs on six hits and winning his fifth start in a row.
Over those past five outings, the lefty is 5-0 with a 1.97 ERA and a .193 opponents’ batting average. Manaea (6-3) lowered his overall ERA to 3.67.
A’s manager Bob Melvin in particular liked the way his second-year starter navigated his way through traffic in the seventh inning, with his pitch count approaching 100. Manaea’s first two batters reached on a walk and single, but Manaea then coaxed a 4-6-3 double play from Jesus Sucre and ended the inning by getting leadoff man Steven Souza on a groundout.
“Everybody knows he has this in him,” Melvin told reporters after the game. “It’s just about getting on a roll. And I’ve said this before. I think what impressed me most about him is he’ll have a tough first inning and then recover. Then in the seventh (Saturday), when we needed him to go a little bit deeper, he puts the first guy on and then gets a double-play ball. So that’s just a sign of maturity that he doesn’t let things snowball on him like we saw last year at times maybe.”
On Saturday, Andrew Triggs was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left hip. Triggs had been the only one of the A’s five season-opening starters to remain in the rotation uninterrupted since Opening Night. Sonny Gray, who began the year on the D.L., came back at the start of May, then the A’s lost Kendall Graveman to the D.L. at the end of May for the second time this season.
There’s a need for stability from someone. Right now Manaea is that guy.
With a 7-for-10 performance in the doubleheader, first baseman Yonder Alonso raised his average from .299 to .314 in a single day. With 32 hits as a team, the A’s set an Oakland record for most hits in a doubleheader.
Triggs would miss two turns through the rotation before he’s eligible to come off the D.L. on June 20. His next turn comes Wednesday at Miami. It’s worth noting that right-hander Daniel Gossett was scratched from his scheduled start Saturday for Triple-A Nashville, raising the possibility of Gossett being recalled for his major league debut in the coming days to fill Triggs’ rotation spot.