OAKLAND – Minus their top two starting pitchers, the A’s rotation is keeping it together well in the season’s opening month.
Sean Manaea delivered his best outing so far and the A’s beat the Seattle Mariners 3-1 on Friday to run their winning streak to four. Oakland also has won four consecutive home games for the first time since a six-game streak that bridged last May and June.
The A’s biggest concern coming out of spring training was the injury that landed Sonny Gray on the disabled list. They recently lost Kendall Graveman for a turn through the rotation due to a shoulder strain. In their absence, an young and inexperienced rotation is holding its own.
Manaea (1-1), who didn’t allow a hit in his previous start but walked five, showed better command Friday and held Seattle to one run over six innings. He struck out six and walked three. A’s starters have now allowed two runs or fewer in seven of the last 10 games and are 5-2 with a 2.40 ERA over that span.
Trevor Plouffe homered for the second straight night to tie the game in the fifth and Yonder Alonso went deep an inning later to put the A’s ahead 2-1. They tacked on another run that inning on Stephen Vogt’s sacrifice fly.
Starting pitching report
Manaea allowed his only run in the third, a two-out rally in which Guillermo Heredia singled and Mitch Haniger tripled down the left-field line to drive him in. The lefty came up big in the second. With two runners aboard, he coaxed a 5-4-3 double play from Taylor Motter and then struck out former teammate Danny Valencia looking, with Valencia slamming his helmet down in frustration.
The A’s late-inning relief combo has worked well over this winning streak. Manager Bob Melvin has settled on Santiago Casilla as his closer for now, and Casilla notched his second save in the past three nights, giving him three on the season.
Asked if Casilla was officially his closer, Melvin gave a light chuckle and responded: “He is a closer, he’s been a closer. He continues to be one. It doesn’t mean we only have one.”
Doolittle will get save opportunities when the opponent has a string of lefties due up in that inning. But the setup situation also is fluid, with Doolittle and Ryan Madson alternating handling the eighth over the past two nights.
At the plate
The long ball continues to be a strength for the A’s, who entered the night tied for third in the AL with homers at 20. Plouffe’s homer was his fourth of the season and No. 100 for his career. And it’s always good when the A’s tack on an extra run, as Vogt did with his sacrifice fly.
In the field
The A’s turned in their third consecutive errorless game after an 11-game streak with at least one. In the ninth, left fielder Khris Davis made a terrific leaping catch on the warning track to back Casilla.
The announced turnout was 15,255.
Jharel Cotton (1-2, 5.40) leads American League rookies with 13 strikeouts. He’ll take the mound Saturday afternoon, opposed by lefty Ariel Miranda (1-1, 3.06). First pitch is 1:05 p.m.