Athletics

Manaea, bullpen can't hit the brakes as A's squander big lead

Manaea, bullpen can't hit the brakes as A's squander big lead

OAKLAND — Sean Manaea said the blame for Saturday’s loss fell on him.

A couple lockers down from him, Sean Doolittle was talking about how he and his fellow relievers need to do a better job when entering tough situations.

On a day that produced so much dysfunction on the diamond, at least the A’s were in sharp form afterward in trying to accept responsibility.

They lost for the second straight day to the Astros on Saturday, 10-6, and did so in ugly fashion, blowing what was a 5-0 lead at one point. There were two costly errors and some missed opportunities on offense, but the biggest breakdowns came on the pitching side.

Handing a five-run lead to Manaea usually seems a sure route to victory. But after he tossed five scoreless (and hitless) innings, things went downhill quickly for the left-hander. He walked the first three batters of the sixth, throwing eight balls in a row at one point, and then gave up Carlos Correa’s line drive that got past shortstop Adam Rosales, a play on which the A’s got charged for two errors and let two runs score.

“We played the first half of the game really well, and probably as poorly as we could play the second half of the game,” manager Bob Melvin said.

Manaea’s sizable natural ability has shined through at times over his first three starts — the Astros still hadn’t registered a hit off him when he was pulled after five-plus innings. But he couldn’t recover after he lost command of the strike zone, and he piled up 98 pitches and forced Melvin to call on his bullpen early.

“Today was a tough one,” Manaea said. “It’s completely on me. Everybody’s just sitting around waiting, long innings, and I’m putting the bullpen in a bad situation like that. For me, it’s really a mental thing.”

Manaea actually lowered his ERA from 7.15 to 5.51, but the A’s need consistency from their No. 2 starter to bolster a rotation that’s been without Sonny Gray and saw Kendall Graveman leave Friday’s start early for health reasons.

It was still a 5-2 game when Melvin went to his bullpen, but rather than restore order, the relievers let things skid completely off-course. Liam Hendriks, Santiago Casilla, Doolittle and Frankie Montas combined to allow eight runs over the final three innings.

“It just kind of snowballed on us,” Doolittle said. “I guess the silver lining here is we all kind of had a bad day at once. Hopefully we got it out of our system. There’s some guys coming into tough spots with guys on base. We gotta be better coming into games in those situations and making pitches and picking each other up.”

Any team can rebound from a 5-7 start and spotty play early on. What the A’s truly can’t afford is bad news on the injury front for a couple of their cornerstones. Shortstop Marcus Semien missed Saturday’s game and will be sidelined at least a couple more days with what’s been diagnosed as a bone contusion in his right wrist. He underwent an MRI on Saturday, but a CT scan Monday should provide more clarity on how serious the injury is.

Semien said his wrist has bothered him since late in spring training. He’s played through the discomfort, and it was only hindering him swinging the bat until Friday night, when he felt it throwing during batting practice.

A bit of mystery also surrounds Graveman after he left Friday’s start early. He explained Saturday that he had trouble getting his entire body loose. Asked if it was accurate to say it was an arm issue, Graveman said no. Whatever the case, both he and Melvin expressed hope he would be OK for his next start Wednesday.

The A’s could use a dose of good news when they take the field Sunday looking to avoid a sweep.

Doolittle spoke of the bullpen specifically with the following quote, but could have been referring to his entire team about Saturday’s loss.

“That was so bad that we just gotta turn the page, leave it here, flush it and get back to work tomorrow.”

 

Khris Davis leaves (and receives) lasting impression with special fan

Khris Davis leaves (and receives) lasting impression with special fan

OAKLAND -- Baseball is just a game. It’s easy to lose sight of that when you are battling for playoff position and every game matters. 

For Oakland A’s slugger Khris Davis, he was reminded of this fact during pregame on Monday evening when a special guest dropped by the dugout to meet him. 

Anthony Slocumb, a sixth grader from Claremont Middle School in Oakland, is a big-time fan of Davis. He’s also in remission after battling a rare cancer called Langerhans cell histiocytosis.

Before the game, Slocumb met Davis as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and asked for an autograph. Davis returned the favor, having the 10-year-old sign the back of his jersey before the A’s took on the Texas Rangers.

With blue ink sprawled across the back of his uniform, Davis stepped to the plate and gave Slocumb an incredible memory to hold onto, blasting a towering shot into the left field bleachers.

“There was a lot of emotion with those kid’s situation,” Davis said following the game. “It’s the worst situation you can be in, probably. I just wanted to put a smile on his face and thought maybe it would mean something if I had him my jersey signed by him.” 

These events play out often in professional sports, but Davis was moved by his experience Monday. The A’s leader in home runs crushed a ball that careened off a luxury box window an estimated 438 feet from home plate.

As he rounded the bases, he did so with a his newly found friend in mind. 

“I thought about him around the bases,” Davis said. “There’s not a better feeling than hitting a home run. And if he got some excitement and joy from watching that ... I hope he saw it.”  

Davis only had a few minutes to spend with Slocumb before the game, but it left him energized. The home run was Davis' 37th of the season, tying for second place in the majors, one behind the Red Sox’ J.D. Martinez. 

When asked whether he considered swapping out for a new jersey before the game, Davis gave a definitive - “no.” 

“I wanted to rock that. I wanted him to know I was thinking about him,” Davis said. 

The A’s are having a season of big moments. Coming away with a 9-0 win over the Rangers is great for the win/loss record, but for one fan, this was a game he’ll never forget. 

A's notes: Ramon Laureano leads Oakland power surge with two homers

A's notes: Ramon Laureano leads Oakland power surge with two homers

OAKLAND — The A’s keep rolling. After taking two of three against the Houston Astros over the weekend, Oakland’s hitters jumped all over Rangers starter Bartolo Colon Monday evening at the Coliseum.

With Mike Fiers dealing on the mound, the A’s position players crushed Colon for seven earned runs on 10 hits over five innings, coming away with a 9-0 win to improve to 75-50 on the season. 

--- A First and a Blast - Ramon Laureano got in on the power surge early, hitting his first big-league homer in the second inning off the top of the right field scoreboard. It was a nice moment for the rookie, but it was completely overshadowed by a shot from Kris Davis in the third. Davis crushed his 37th homer of the season an estimated 437 feet to left center field. The shot came off the bat of the A’s DH at an estimated 111 mph exit speed at a 28-degree angle and hit off the windows of a suite. The ball might have hit a BART train if not for Mount Davis impeding its path.  

--- Chasing J.D. - With home run No. 37, Davis is now tied for second place in the majors with Cleveland’s José Ramírez. The two sluggers trail Boston’s J.D. Martinez, who has 38 homers on the season. Davis is one RBI away from 100, which would give him three straight seasons in Oakland with 37-plus home runs and a 100 or more RBI.

--- Not to be Outdone - Laureano crushed a three-run blast in the six inning off of Colon for the first multi-homer game of his career. The 23-year-old center fielder finished the night 2-for-4 with the pair of jacks and five RBI. 

--- Starters on Fier - Mike Fiers picked up his second win in three starts as a member of the A's. He gave up a double to lead off the second inning, but then shut down the final 18 hitters he faced to pick up the victory. Oakland starters are now 10-2 over their last 18 games and have yielded two runs or fewer 15 times over that stretch. 

--- Stay Hot - With the win, Oakland improved to 41-14 over the last 55 games. They came into the evening tied with Boston for the best record in the majors over that stretch, but with the Red Sox' loss to the Indians, the A’s now lead by a game. 

--- Quiet Night - The official attendance on the evening was just 9,341. With the A’s battling for a playoff spot, the numbers have been all over the board.