Athletics

Manaea wins fifth in a row, restores order to A's rotation

Manaea wins fifth in a row, restores order to A's rotation

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.

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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.

What Matt Olson injury means for A's offense, defense at first base

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AP/USATSI

What Matt Olson injury means for A's offense, defense at first base

The A's fears became a reality Friday when Gold Glove first baseman Matt Olson had to undergo surgery on his right hand.

No timetable has been provided for Olson's return, but a 2018 article in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine which studied similar procedures suggests he will likely miss three to seven weeks.

This is obviously a huge loss for Oakland. Beyond Olson's terrific defense, the 24-year-old provided tremendous power in the middle of the lineup.

Last season, Olson slashed .247/.335/.453 with 29 home runs and 84 RBI. That production won't be easy to replace, but the A's do have some reasonable options.

Platoon players Mark Canha and Chad Pinder can both play first base, and carry plenty of power in their bats. Canha clubbed 17 home runs and 22 doubles last year in just 365 at-bats. Pinder, meanwhile, hit 28 homers in 580 at-bats over the last two seasons.

Another option for the A's is to move Jurickson Profar to first base -- where he played 24 games last year -- and start Franklin Barreto at second. Barreto is coming off a terrific spring, hitting .375 (12-for-32) with a home run, four doubles, three RBI, five walks, and eight runs scored.

Barreto now has a great chance to make the 25-man roster in Olson's place. The 23-year-old has long been considered one of the A's top prospects, but has never had a chance to get consistent playing time in the big leagues. Oakland moved him from second base to the outfield this spring, but now a return to second makes sense.

[RELATED: Can A's regroup after rough beginning to season?]

The A's are fortunate to have enough offensive depth to survive the loss of Olson, but the biggest impact will likely show up on defense. Olson's height and scooping ability at first base will be incredibly hard to replace.

Nonetheless, Oakland showed the ability to overcome injury adversity last season. The A's just have to do it again this year.

A's first baseman Matt Olson undergoes surgery on his right hand

mattolsonap.jpg
AP

A's first baseman Matt Olson undergoes surgery on his right hand

The A's announced on Friday that 2018 Gold Glove first baseman Matt Olson underwent successful right hamate excision surgery on his right hand. The surgery was performed in Los Angeles by Dr. Steven Shin:

Olson left Thursday's game against the Mariners in Japan due to some discomfort in his right hand as he was having some trouble gripping his bat. 

While we are unsure how long Olson will be out, this article in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine states similar injuries could sideline players from three to seven weeks with the median time ranging around five weeks.

For now, the A's do have Mark Canha who can play first base. Jurickson Profar is always an option as well since he can play anywhere. But he covers so much range in the middle of the infield, picturing him anywhere else but second base seems strange.

We knew this was looking like bad news when it happened, but now that we know for sure, the A's need to figure out a more direct plan knowing the team is without their first baseman and a very powerful bat to start out the season.