OAKLAND - A shutdown outing from a starting pitcher can go a long way toward shaking a team out of bad times.
As the A's discovered Tuesday night, the opposite can happen too. The Giants jumped on Sean Manaea before the lefty ever had a chance to find his rhythm, putting up five runs in the top of the first and halting the A's three-game winning streak with a 10-4 rout at the Coliseum.
Manaea on the hill usually means a short night's work for the bullpen. He'd worked at least six innings in 10 of his previous 12 starts, and in seven of those 12 he completed seven innings.
But his fastball command, and the typical zip with his heater, was nowhere to be found. That, with a faulty changeup spelled trouble as the lefty gave up nine hits and six runs (two earned) and departed after three innings.
"We gave them some extra outs in the first, but usually he's getting a few more swings and misses," manager Bob Melvin said. "It was just one of those rare outings for him where he doesn't get deep in the game. It looked like the velo was down a little bit. It just didn't look like there was anything coming out. I wasn't comfortable letting him go out (to pitch longer)."
Melvin added that he had no concerns about Manaea's health, and Manaea, who gave up his most runs since April 9, was ready to chalk it up as a bad night worth leaving behind. After taking two of three from the Twins, the A's won Monday's Bay Bridge Series opener 8-5 and had to feel good taking the field behind their big lefty.
An error from first baseman Yonder Alonso and then an off-target throw from Alonso on what could have been a double play compounded things in the first.
"Really disappointing," Manaea (8-6) said of his outing. "I just wanted to keep that good streak going. Unfortunately tonight just wasn't my night. They definitely smacked me around a little bit. It seemed like every ball just found the grass or got by somebody."
It's an important time for the A's rotation in the aftermath of the Sonny Gray trade. Kendall Graveman will return Thursday following a 2 1/2 month absence with a shoulder injury. His presence will be welcomed, but Manaea is needed to provide the second half of that veteran 1-2 punch ahead of Paul Blackburn, Jharel Cotton and Daniel Gossett.
Tuesday's silver lining: Reliever Michael Brady stepped up with six innings of relief. Though he gave up four runs, including Hunter Pence's three-run shot that put the game out of reach, he also saved further depletion of the bullpen. Manaea credited Brady while holding firm that he himself can rebound in his next start.
"I just need to get into my bullpen (session) for my next start and turn things around."