SAN FRANCISCO – Sean Manaea’s final start of the spring was something special.
The left-hander kept the San Francisco lineup swinging at pitches they couldn’t quite handle as he retired all 12 batters he faced in a four-inning stint of a game Oakland went on to lose 3-0.
It was the third time in his last four starts that Manaea hadn’t allowed a run. His spring has been nothing if not up and down, giving up 11 runs in two starts and two runs combined in the other five.
Asked if he felt ready for the season to start, Manaea broke into a wide grin.
“I felt really, really good today,” he said. “I felt good mentally, physically. I’m happy with the results today and I’m just happy where I’m at right now.”
He’s down to face the Angels in Game 3 of the season, next Tuesday at the Coliseum.
“(The weather) is what it’s going to be like in Oakland,” he said. “So today was really good, and I felt I handled it pretty good.”
#Athletics Sean Manaea on his four perfect innings against the #SFGiants tonight. pic.twitter.com/Kz24IsOxPj
— John Hickey (@JHickey3) March 31, 2017
Manaea spent the spring working on his off-speed pitches, and it showed with his slider and changeup nicking the corners of the strike zone.
He also took the time to watch Giants’ starter Johnny Cueto, who threw five scoreless innings, pitching out of trouble time and again, including a pickoff of A’s leadoff hitter Rajai Davis to end the third inning.
“I watched him a lot as a teenager,” Manaea said. “It was fun to watch him do what he does with all the timing stuff.”
–The A’s threw six scoreless innings against the Giants, but that fell apart in the seventh when reliever Liam Hendriks ran afoul of some San Francisco offense. The Giants scored three times, two charged to Hendriks, who got just one out.
The last two outs were recorded by right-hander Frankie Montas, who gave up a bases-loaded sacrifice fly and a strikeout.
After Manaea, John Axford and lefty Daniel Coulombe each threw a scoreless inning and the Giants had just one hit through six innings. But Coulombe gave up a leadoff hit in the seventh, and after Hendriks got one out, he gave up a total of four hits.
Oakland has now lost its last four games and six of its last seven.
–By the time he takes the mound for the A’s Friday night against his old team, the Giants, Santiago Casilla could have a new glove.
The one-time San Francisco closer was using his old one, black with orange stitching, Thursday, and is waiting to get one with green stitching to match the A’s colors.
What’s more important, though, is using Friday’s game to state his case that Casilla should be the Oakland closer to open the season.
“I want to close, yeah,” Casilla said. “For me I like to be in the game late. I love pitching in the ninth inning. In the ninth, you pitch different. The thing is, it’s a little more emotional in the ninth, and I like that.”
–Sonny Gray won’t be ready to pitch in a big league game for maybe a month, but he nevertheless made the trip north with the A’s for the Bay Bridge Series.
The man who would have been the A’s opening day starter had he been healthy is recovering from a strained right lat muscle. He’s been cleared to play catch but has yet to have a bullpen session.
“It’s not my decision to make, and they haven’t asked me,” Gray said. “I feel good. I’m throwing every day, out to 120 feet, and the last two days I’ve thrown curves and I’ve thrown sliders.”
Melvin said Gray could get his first bullpen session sometime in the next week.
Khris Davis and Trevor Plouffe, hobbled slightly by calf injuries, missed Friday’s start, but both are expected to be in the lineup Saturday for the A’s. Having them back will help manager Bob Melvin and the front office finalize the 25-man roster. “They’re doing fine,” Melvin said. “We kept them out today, but I’m optimistic that they will both be in there tomorrow. And if that’s the case, we feel good about them going into the season. We can get them into the game again on Saturday, so as long as they’re in there, we feel good about it.”
Of the 36 players still in camp, five are likely to start the season on the disabled list – Sonny Gray, Chris Bassitt, Daniel Mengden, Jake Smolinski and Joey Wendle. That means there are still six cuts to be made.
Regular season probable pitchers against the Angels in a four-game series are Kendall Graveman, Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs. The Angels have yet to set their rotation.
Conflicts with Warriors and Sharks coverage will cost the A’s four games that will be shifted away from their radio home at 95.7 The Game, Saturday’s spring game against the Giants and three early April regular season games. Saturday’s game, April 4 against the Angels and April 8 at Texas will be heard on KBLX 102.9 while the April 5 game against the Angels will be heard on KFOX 98.5.
Oakland’s April 4 game can be viewed through the NBC Sports App, which will host live streaming of the game at http://www.nbcsports.com/live