ANAHEIM – Sean Manaea is hopeful he won’t miss his next start.
But after pitching just two innings and leaving an 8-5 loss to the Angels with shoulder tightness, Manaea may wind up on the disabled list Thursday when the A’s have to clear a roster spot for Thursday’s starter, Kendall Graveman, himself coming off the DL.
Asked if he believed there was any reason he couldn’t make his next start, the left-hander said ”right now, no, but I can’t really tell in the future.”
The left-hander’s two innings Wednesday were just fragments of the picture he’s used to presenting to the A’s. Normally able to zero in with a 95-mph fastball, the lefty instead struggled to break 90.
“I tried to push through it a little bit, but today I just couldn’t do it,” Manaea said after taking the loss that dropped the A’s to 10-11 and into a second-place tie in the American League West with the Angels..
First baseman Yonder Alonso, whose single gave Oakland a 2-0 lead in the first and who later hit his fourth homer, said he was one of many of Manaea’s teammates to go to the pitcher and ask if he was all right.
“I asked if he was OK and he said he was OK,” Alonso said. “We’re all competitors. If we can go at even 80 or 90 percent, we will. We’re just hoping he get back to being Sean.”
The A’s do have an ace up their sleeve in Jesse Hahn. He was likely out of the rotation, Tuesday’s eight shutout innings of one-hit ball notwithstanding, because of Graveman coming back and Sonny Gray returning next week in Minnesota.
Oakland can give Manaea some time to work through whatever issues he has over the course of the next 10 days, should they choose.
Manaea said he had a similar problem in spring training with the Kansas City Royals in 2014 but hadn’t experienced anything like it since. On Wednesday he lasted just two innings allowing four hits, including three doubles, over the space of five batters in the second inning.
Whether or not Manaea is going to miss a start or two remains up in the air, but any loss of starts by the left-hander can only benefit Hahn, who has put together three consecutive quality starts after taking over the No. 5 slot in the rotation from Raul Alcantara, who has since been designated for assignment.
In trying to pitch the A’s out of a two-game losing streak, Manaea opened up by retiring the first four batters he faced. Things changed when four of the next five men reached base, three of them on doubles.
And Manaea, who generally works in the 93-95 mph range, showed a noticeable dropoff in his velocity in what was his fifth start of the season.
He’d been hit hard in his first two starts against the Angels and Rangers, giving up 10 runs, nine earned, combined. Manaea followed that up, however, by allowing one earned run in back-to-back starts against the Astros and the Mariners before Wednesday’s short duty.
Oakland’s offense went after Angels’ starter Matt Shoemaker hard in the first inning a single by Jed Lowrie and an errant throw by Shoemaker getting Lowrie to second base. Khris Davis and Stephen Vogt both walked with two out, setting up a two-run Alonso single.
After the Angels stretched their lead to 4-2 with a run off reliever Frankie Montas in the fifth, Alonso opened the sixth with his fourth homer to get Oakland within a run at 4-3. This has been the best homer month of Alonso’s career. He’s never reached double figures in homers in a season. Last year he went deep seven times, and the fourth one didn’t come until July 8.
Oakland added two more runs on a homer by Matt Joyce in the eighth, but that came after reliever Ryan Dull had been charged with four runs, two of them earned, in the bottom of the seventh. An error by catcher Stephen Vogt on a collision play at the plate extended the inning with Dull getting just two outs before Cesar Valdez finished up.
After giving up a solo homer in the 10th inning to Mike Trout in a blown save attempt Tuesday, A’s closer Santiago Casilla said he was ready for another shot at Trout, the Angels’ MVP. “That would be perfect,” he said about a Trout rematch in this series with the game on the line. “I’d like to face him again. I want that. The game is in the past, but I’d like that same opportunity to come back and close the game.”
Chris Bassitt, coming back from last year’s Tommy John surgery, will get his first injury rehabilitation start Saturday in San Jose while pitching for the Class-A Stockton Ports. He’s slated to throw between 35 and 40 pitches.
Right-hander Daniel Mengden, coming off right foot surgery, had two sets of 20 pitches each on Tuesday. Melvin said that Mengden has done such a good job of keeping his arm in shape, he might be back sooner than might otherwise be expected.
Melvin said center fielder Rajai Davis, due off the DL next week, may well want to play right now, but that the team needs his legs to be 100 percent. “Right now when he gets close to 100 percent, he still feels it a little,” the manager said.