OAKLAND — Sean Manaea has never been asked to pitch as many innings in a season as he has this year. That burden wore on him through August, when he had three outings where he failed to complete the fourth innings.
But on Wednesday, with the Oakland Athletics in desperate need of a long start from their ace, he delivered.
For the first time since May 26 and just the second time all season, Sean Manaea shut out the opponent. Since allowing six runs while recording just one out a little more than three weeks ago, the big lefty has logged three quality starts out of four outings.
“August wasn’t good,” he said in the locker room after the A’s completed a 3-1 win. “It wasn’t good but it was kind of good at the same time, just knowing that I do have these weaknesses and stuff I definitely need to work on.”
Oakland was shorthanded after using six relievers on Tuesday and seven on Monday. So, Manaea giving them a quality start was almost necessary for Bob Melvin, who lamented how much his relievers were being asked to do before the game.
Run support wasn’t quick to come or plentiful, but the Oakland lineup did just enough. In the fourth, when Khris Davis led off with his 39th home run of the season. The blast gives Davis the most long balls in the American League.
“That’s a line drive for anybody else that probably doesn’t even reach the wall, let alone go over it,” Melvin explained the solo homer. “… Pretty special talent as far as power goes.”
Oakland added a couple more one frame later. Marcus Semien hit a double down the left field line and scored on a Chad Pinder single. Two hitters later, Angels left fielder Justin Upton lost a fly ball in the sun, allowing it to drop and Pinder to score.
In the fourth inning, third baseman Matt Chapman approached the plate and traded words with Angels catcher Juan Graterol.
Umpire Mike Everitt got in between the two and lectured Chapman. When tensions didn’t diffuse, Everitt ejected Chapman from the game.
Chapman figured it stemmed back to a couple games ago when the Angels accused the A’s of stealing signs, and that Graterol glared at each hitter as they went to hit.
“That’s not a very comfortable feeling having the catcher staring at you while you’re digging in the box, it’s a little disrespectful to be honest,” Chapman explained. “When I got into the box, I let him know that we were not stealing their signs and there was no need for him to be staring at us.”
Graterol also had words for Mark Canha, who doubled-down on the stance that the A’s weren’t stealing signs. The outfielder threw out a theory of his own, wondering if the Angels falsely accused opponents as a strategy.
“I thought it was just a [manager Mike] Scioscia, Angels, Graterol tactic to make young players uncomfortable,” Canha said.