The A’s lead for most of the game thanks to great starting pitching and an outburst of offense in the 3rd inning, but a bullpen meltdown cost Oakland their third win of the spring as Oakland lost 6-4 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday evening.
The A’s offense showed up tonight, marking a spring-high 13 hits, and starting pitcher Sean Manaea was lights out for 5+ innings. There’s a lot to be encouraged by from tonight’s game that isn’t the score.
*** Click here for today’s Game Thread! ***
The A’s offense got going right away this evening, with back-to-back singles by Billy McKinney and Stephen Vogt opening the game and bringing Ramon Laureano to the plate with runners on the corners. A sac fly brought McKinney in for a nice piece of situational hitting by Laureano and the A’s first run of the game. The offense is really going to miss Lazer Ramon for the first month of the season:
Oakland’s hitters would strike harder in the 3rd, loading the bases on three straight 1-out hits against Gonsolin and chasing him from the game. First baseman Dalton Kelly, desperate for a hit, came up and instead took a pitch off the elbow to bring in another run for the A’s followed by a Sheldon Neuse RBI fly out to right. A Christian Pache walk would reload the bases for shortstop Kevin Smith, who would smack a 3-2 ball into the hole for an RBI single to bring the score to 4-0 A’s.
On the other side of the ball, lefty Sean Manaea squared off against what was very close to the Dodgers’ Opening Day lineup, which should be among the best in baseball this year. Manaea followed a leadoff single by retiring the next 17 of 18 batters (a Freddie Freeman single in the 4th), including nine in a row at one point, while collecting seven swinging strikeouts along the way. At 73 pitches and in the 6th inning, Manaea had reached his pitch limit and Kotsay pulled him after walking his final batter of the night. Left-hander Sam Moll would come on after the walk and promptly serve up a 2-run home run, with Manaea getting charged a run for the walk coming around to score. 4-2 A’s.
Sean Manaea: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 7 K, 1 BB, 73 pitches
The real story of the night was Manaea. The left-hander was on absolute fire tonight, imposing his slider on lefties with 5 of his 7 strikeouts coming against left-handed batters. If Kotsay was considering Manaea for the Opening Day assignment, he must have liked what he saw from tonight’s performance. The race is between Manaea and Frankie Montas, and Baby Giraffe might have edged ahead after tonight’s impressive showing. Manaea is in line for one more spring start before Opening Day rolls around.
Right-hander Grant Holmes came on in the 7th and would unfortunately surrender a double, hit batter, and infield single before serving up a grand slam to give the Dodgers their first lead of the game. Holmes would only get one strikeout before Kotsay saw enough and went back to the ‘pen for Jacob Lemoine, who would walk a batter and induce a double play to end the frame. Lemoine would pitch the 8th inning as well to finish off the game on the pitching side. Oakland would threaten in the top of the 9th with a couple base runners making it to second and third, but would come up short as the Dodgers won 6-4.
If you’ve watched the A’s this spring, then you know the offense has not shown up a lot of the time, so tonight’s hit parade is an encouraging sign of better things to come. And Sean Manaea’s performance is exciting to watch as we near the regular season.
Tonight’s third baseman Sheldon Neuse (3-4, RBI) had a nice at-bat to lead off the top of the 2nd inning, laying off a few tough breaking balls to force a 3-2 count before smacking a hard-hit double. Neuse is now 7-19 this spring and continues to make a strong case to make the Opening Day roster.
Today’s starting shortstop Kevin Smith went 1-2 with an RBI today, but was saved being charged a throwing error by the first baseman.
Billy McKinney went 1-5 today with a run and a strikeout while playing left field.
Center fielder Christian Pache went 0-3 with a walk, a strikeout, and a nice catch in the 4th inning. The defense is clearly there, but the bat just hasn’t shown up this spring.
Smith’s replacement at shortstop Drew Jackson (1-3) had a double and an RBI taken away on an impressive diving play by right fielder Kevin Pillar. Christian Lopes (1-5, R, 2 K) was also on the unlucky end of a nice play, getting robbed of a single in the 7th, but would make a nice play on defense in the bottom of the 8th.
First baseman Dalton Kelly went 1-3 today with a walk and an RBI from the HBP.
DH Eric Thames (2-3, R) had a hard-hit double in the first inning and a single in the third to continue the rally that lead to three runs.
Former second-round pick Jeremy Eierman replaced Thames and went 0-2 with a strikeout.
The A’s are back at it again tomorrow, with a 1:05 game against the Cincinnati Reds at home on tap.