In the middle of the sixth inning, a TV camera caught Jose Altuve smashing his bat against the helmet rack in the Houston Astros’ dugout.
For the MVP contender and his Astros’ teammates, it was that kind of night against Sean Manaea.
“He’s tough to deal with when he’s got all three pitches working,” manager Bob Melvin said. “And that was the case tonight.”
Before the game Melvin had said the rookie left-hander’s last outing — when he allowed three hits and struck out five in five scoreless innings — was his best as an Oakland Athletic.
Against the Astros, he was even better.
“[He was] really good.— similar to last time out,” Melvin said. “He was getting a lot of swings-and-misses [and] some strikeouts.”
Manaea worked six scoreless innings of three-hit ball, punching out seven — as he struck out the side in the second and the fifth.
The bullpen wasn’t nearly as effective in the 10-inning, 2-1 loss. Sean Doolittle let in the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th after John Axford had allowed the tying run in the seventh.
The offense didn’t provide Manaea with any support — much less a hit — until the bottom of the sixth.The A’s finally scored courtesy of a bases-loaded groundout from Stephen Vogt in the sixth.
In the top of the seventh, Axford gave the lead back after nearly escaping unscathed.
With two outs and a runner on third, Tony Kemp lined a comebacker at Axford that clipped off his glove and redirected into shallow right-center field, as Marwin Gonzalez cruised home to make it 1-1.
In the bottom of the tenth, Smolinski almost walked the A’s off when he hooked a bases-loaded line drive just wide of the left-field foul line.
“Smolinksi’s ball — first pitch off his bat — looks like that’s a double down and the game’s over,” Melvin said. “ And i don’t know how far foul it was, but from our vantage point, it looked like it was going to stay fair.”
It didn’t and the A’s rally fizzled out, as Smolinksi popped up and Wendle struck out.
With the three-hit effort on Tuesday night, the A’s have managed three runs on six hits first two games of their homestand after averaging better than 9 runs per game in their recent road swing.