Athletics

The biggest reason behind Sean Manaea's early success

The biggest reason behind Sean Manaea's early success

Where would the A's be without Sean Manaea?

The tall, lanky 26-year-old delivered his fourth consecutive strong outing Sunday afternoon, as the A's salvaged the series finale in Seattle, 2-1.

Manaea allowed just one run and two hits in seven masterful innings. He has given up two runs or fewer in each of his first four starts, averaging seven innings per outing with a 1.63 ERA.

“I'm definitely in a good place,” Manaea told reporters after the game. “I've just got to keep working on being consistent like I am, and take that into my upcoming starts.”

We certainly saw flashes of Manaea's ability last year, but far too often, he would succumb to the big inning. This season, he has maintained a more positive outlook, even following home runs.

Four of the five runs Manaea has allowed this year have come via the long ball, including a solo shot by Taylor Motter Sunday in the fifth inning. But Manaea immediately recovered to retire the next eight Mariners he faced, preserving Oakland's 2-1 lead.

“Last year, it was kind of like a dark spot,” Manaea admitted. “Anything that would go bad, immediately terrible thoughts would pop in my head and keep getting me further and further down. There were times where I couldn't get out of it. Just having a positive mindset and how I am right now - solo home runs aren't going to kill you - that's kind of the mindset I have.”

“I don't know where we'd be without him at this point,” added A's manager Bob Melvin. “He saves the bullpen, has pitched great and won games for us. He's had a heck of an April for us, for sure.”

To Melvin's point, Oakland's other starting pitchers have combined for an astronomical ERA of 7.03, with no starts lasting even lasting six innings.

Manaea has embraced the roll of ace, and he's done it by pitching to contact, recording just 20 strikeouts through 27 2/3 innings, but only walking four.

“He's finding a way to pitch without a 95 mph fastball,” Melvin explained. “That means keeping some balls on the ground and trying to get some early pitch contact. You can't strike anybody out until you get to two strikes. He's learning how to pitch.”

“Throwing everything for strikes and just relying on the defense,” Manaea added. “Try to get early outs and early contact, and strikeouts when we needed them. That was the game plan today. I feel like I was locating my fastball inside and out, and keeping guys off balance.”

Manaea has now pitched seven or more innings while allowing two or fewer runs in three starts this season, tied for the most in Major League Baseball. He has given up two earned runs or fewer in six straight starts, dating back to last season.

Seriously, where would the A's be without Sean Manaea?

A's vs. Rangers lineup: Jurickson Profar, Mark Canha return for series finale

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A's vs. Rangers lineup: Jurickson Profar, Mark Canha return for series finale

After being hammered by the A's, 11-5, on Tuesday night, the Rangers got even more bad news Wednesday.

Left-hander Drew Smyly was expected to get the start, but he had to be sent to the injured list with tightness in his left arm. As a result, the Rangers will trot out reliever Kyle Dowdy for his first career start.

The A's eviscerated most of the Rangers' bullpen Tuesday, so getting to Dowdy early could spell trouble for Texas.

Oakland's lineup for Wednesday's matinee -- which serves as the appetizer for Warriors-Clippers Game 5 -- will look a little different. Jurickson Profar and Mark Canha will both return to the lineup after scheduled days off, while Chad Pinder moves to left field and Kendrys Morales and Robbie Grossman head to the bench.

Coverage of A's-Rangers begins at 12:00 p.m. PT with A's Pregame Live on NBC Sports California and streaming on the MyTeams app.

Here are the full lineups for Wednesday's A's vs. Rangers game:

Oakland A's (13-13)
1. Marcus Semien (R) SS
2. Matt Chapman (R) 3B
3. Stephen Piscotty (R) RF
4. Khris Davis (R) DH
5. Chad Pinder (R) LF
6. Mark Canha (R) 1B
7. Jurickson Profar (S) 2B
8. Ramon Laureano (R) CF
9. Nick Hundley (R) C

Aaron Brooks, RHP (2-2, 5.32 ERA)

Texas Rangers (12-10)
1. Shin-Soo Choo (L) LF
2. Danny Santana (S) 2B
3. Joey Gallo (L) DH
4. Nomar Mazara (L) RF
5. Asdrubal Cabrera (S) 3B
6. Logan Forsythe (R) SS
7. Patrick Wisdom (R) 1B
8. Jeff Mathis (R) C
9. Delino DeShields (R) CF

Kyle Dowdy, RHP (1-0, 3.48 ERA)

'Damn proud:' San Jose native Mark Canha elated following Sharks victory

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'Damn proud:' San Jose native Mark Canha elated following Sharks victory

OAKLAND – Mark Canha won two games Tuesday night, and he didn't even take the field.

The A's outfielder got a day off as Oakland beat Texas 11-5 at the Coliseum, but the San Jose native was just as happy about the Sharks' 5-4 comeback victory to beat the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's awesome," Canha said. "I knew they were going to win tonight. I didn't want to say anything all day. I kind of just kept it to myself. But I knew that there were some good vibes from the team, just the way they came out the last two games and played loose and got those wins. It seems like a very resilient team. I knew that they had it in them to win a big, emotional game tonight. They did it and I'm damn proud of them."

Canha, a diehard Sharks fan, and A's reliever Liam Hendriks actually opened the dressing room doors for the Sharks before Game 5 last Thursday. San Jose won that game 5-2 and rallied back from a 3-1 series deficit to win in seven games.

Canha says he knew from the Coliseum crowd Tuesday night that the Sharks were doing something big.

"I mean, I wasn't checking the score or anything, but I could tell," he said. "There were some cheers in the crowd during the game that I know were related because it would just be during a lull in the game and the crowd would erupt. So I figured something crazy was going on."

Canha was right. Trailing 3-0 in the third period, the Sharks scored four unanswered goals on a five-minute major power play to take the lead. After Vegas tied the game at four, San Jose won in overtime on a gorgeous goal by Barclay Goodrow.

[RELATED: Canha unleashes epic batflip]

"I saw what happened (on the jumbotron)," Canha said. "Sounds like they won in pretty spectacular fashion. I'm just super happy for them."

Meanwhile, Canha's A's have taken the first two games of their series against the Texas Rangers. They will go for the sweep Wednesday afternoon.