BY ANTHONY SOSA
The Oakland Athletics used a strong four-run sixth inning and a quality start from Sean Manaea to propel them to a 6-4 victory over the Los Angeles Angels, Saturday at the Oakland Coliseum. The A’s victory ended their four-game losing streak and also a six-game losing streak against AL West opponents.
Athletics’ starter Sean Manaea grooved through the first four innings of the game. He retired the first 12 batters he faced and looked sharp early on. However, in the top of the fifth inning, Manaea allowed back-to-back singles to Albert Pujols and Martin Maldonado. He then surrendered a 381-foot, three-run blast to Chris Young on an outside 0-2 fastball. It was Young’s fourth home run of the season. “After the home run, I just stepped off, focused and really slowed the game down,” Manaea said. “Just told myself to get back on the mound and put the team in a good position.”
Besides the rough fifth, Manaea cruised through every other inning he pitched in. In six innings of work, he allowed three earned runs on three hits and a walk. He had four strikeouts in his outing. Manaea earned his sixth victory of 2018 and his first since May 14. “All it takes for a guy of his caliber and talent level is to get a good outing or two under his belt” said manager Bob Melvin. “Then he’s back to pitching confidently. When he’s pitching confidently, he usually pitches games like that.”
With the Angels recently losing both Shohei Ohtani and Garrett Richards to injuries, they summoned John Lamb from triple-A Salt Lake to make a spot start in Saturday’s game. Lamb’s last major league start was back on July 16, 2016 for the Cincinnati Reds. In two seasons with the Reds, Lamb made 24 starts. In those starts, he posted a 2-12 record, with a 6.17 ERA and 116 strikeouts. In his first MLB outing in two years, Lamb pitched relatively well. He went five innings allowing two runs on three hits and a walk. He punched out five A’s. Two of the three hits Lamb allowed were solo home runs.
The A’s managed to produce just one hit through the first three innings, Chad Pinder stepped up to the box to lead off the bottom half of the fourth and sent a line drive over the left-center field wall for a solo home run. It was Pinder’s sixth home run of the season and it traveled an estimated 408 feet. “Pin (Pinder) can be really productive,” Melvin said. “When he gets on a roll, he’s as productive as anybody we have. It’s about trying to get him regular at-bats, where he can be consistent, where he can see right-handed pitching and feel confident against them.”
Lamb entered the bottom of the sixth for the Angels, but only lasted one batter. Marcus Semien led off the inning with a towering 399-foot home run into centerfield that chased Lamb out of the game. Noe Ramirez replaced Lamb and struggled with his command right out of the gate. He came into the game and immediately hit Pinder with a pitch. Two batters later he walked Khris Davis and then hit Matt Olson with a pitch. With the bases loaded, Ramirez struck out Dustin Fowler but then walked Jonathan Lucroy to force in a run. Stephen Piscotty followed with the big blow in the inning. He delivered a two-out, two-RBI single up the middle to give the A’s a 5-3 lead. “I feel like my quality at-bats are starting to spike a little bit,” Piscotty said. “(I’m) trying to control what I can control. It felt good to come through for the team.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Pinder hit a one-out triple off the right-center field wall. Jed Lowrie followed by knocking in Pinder with a groundball single up the middle. Pinder had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI. He finished just a double shy of the cycle and totaled half of the A’s combined hits. “It was a really good win for us right there,” Pinder said. With Matt Chapman out, Pinder could find himself starting more during that duration. He feels that the approach is the same no matter if he starts or comes off the bench.
The Athletics’ bullpen took over in the seventh inning and shut the door on the Angels. A combination of Yusmerio Petit, Lou Trivino and Blake Treinen kept the Angels off the board in the last three innings. Although, the Angels did make things interesting in the ninth.
After Treinen walked Mike Trout and Pujols to lead off the ninth, pinch-hitter Jose Miguel Fernandez delivered a two-out, RBI single. Treinen managed to get Luis Valbuena to ground out and end the game. The closer collected his 16th save of the season. He’s now converted each of his last 12 save opportunities. He hasn’t blown a save since April 18 against the Chicago White Sox.
Despite the A’s ending their losing streak against AL West opponents, they still find themselves 11-26 against their own division in 2018. They’ve lost 12 out of their last 14 against the AL West. Against all other teams, the A’s are 24-11. They find themselves 35-36 overall.
The series concludes tomorrow as the two teams square off in the rubber match of the three-game set. Daniel Mengden (6-6, 3.90) takes the hill for the Athletics. He comes off back-to-back rough outings against the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros. He allowed six earned runs in both starts. As for the Angels, they’ll send lefty Andrew Heaney (3-5, 3.68) to the mound. Heaney is two starts removed from a one-hit shutout he threw against the Kansas City Royals back on June 5. The game is scheduled to start at 1:05 p.m. Sunday at the Oakland Coliseum.
Before Saturday’s game, the A’s made multiple roster moves. They placed third baseman Matt Chapman on the 10-day DL with a right thumb contusion. Chapman was removed from Thursday’s game against the Astros due to the injury. The Athletics also optioned reliever Carlos Ramirez to triple-A Nashville, and they recalled both infielder Franklin Barreto and reliever Josh Lucas.
With Chapman hitting the DL, Melvin plans to play Jed Lowrie at third base for the time being. This opens the second base spot for Barreto. “This is a nice opportunity for him (Barreto),” Melvin said before the game. “He’s been our top prospect, or one of them for years now and he’s still only 22 years old. The times he’s been here, he’s not gotten the opportunity to play almost every day. I’d like to see him get off to a good start because he’s a very talented player.”
Angels’ outfielder Justin Upton was scratched from Saturday’s lineup due to low back stiffness. Not a good sign for an Angels’ club that currently leads all of baseball with 14 players on the DL.
After taking batting practice with the team before Friday night’s game, Matt Joyce, who is currently on the DL with a back strain, ran the bases before Saturday’s game. Melvin said that Joyce will begin a rehab assignment on Monday. In other DL news, starting pitcher Brett Anderson, who is out with a left shoulder strain, threw a bullpen session Saturday. Starting pitcher Trevor Cahill, who is dealing with an achilles injury, threw from a knee Saturday.