Athletics’ Manaea tries to stay hot versus Tigers
An uncluttered mind has helped Sean Manaea sharpen his pitching arsenal.
The Oakland A’s left-hander has delivered three consecutive quality starts following a rough patch in May. Manaea allowed four or more earned runs in five of his six May starts but has held opponents to a combined eight runs in his last four outings.
Manaea will start for the A’s on Wednesday in the third contest of a four-game series in Detroit.
“I was trying to be too perfect and it was causing me to overthink things,” he said. “Now, I’m trying to keep things simple.”
With his mind no longer racing, his control has been nearly impeccable. He’s walked one batter in his last three starts while collecting 17 strikeouts.
He’s gone more often with his four-seam fastball, throwing it 58 percent of the time this month compared to 50 percent in May.
“It’s having fastball command and having confidence in my other pitches and just pitching off the fastball,” he said. “If you have confidence in yourself and really trust your stuff, things are going to be good.”
Manaea (7-6, 3.40 ERA) held the Chicago White Sox to one run on five hits in seven innings during his last start. He lost his only career start against Detroit while giving up three runs in six innings.
He’ll be opposed by right-hander Mike Fiers (5-4, 4.29 ERA), who has not reached the six-inning mark in six of his last seven outings. He gave up four runs in five innings at Cleveland on Friday.
Home runs have been an issue for Fiers, who has allowed 16 this season and at least one in 10 of his last 11 starts. The A’s have homered in 27 consecutive road games, a major league record.
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire would like see Fiers and many of his other starters get deeper into games.
“With Zimm (Jordan Zimmermann) it’s different because he’s coming off an injury and you want to keep him healthy,” Gardenhire said. “A lot of the other guys, it’s kind of a feel. I’m not afraid to have a guy throw 100 pitches and seven innings at all. But if they start misfiring, what good does that do if you have fresh arms out there? The problem is we’ve had too many five-inning starts.”
Detroit has lost seven straight, including two crushing defeats in the first two games of the series. Oakland rallied from a late three-run deficit Monday, then dug itself out of a 6-0 hole in Tuesday’s 9-7 victory.
Jed Lowrie, who hit the game-winning homer in the ninth in the opener, put the A’s in front in the final inning on an RBI single.
An error by Tigers first baseman John Hicks led to a three-run inning which started the A’s comeback.
“You make mistakes every once in a while but I don’t think we’re finding ways to lose,” Gardenhire said. “The other team’s playing good. Sure, we made mistakes but we jumped on them early. We scored runs and that’s a good team over there that doesn’t quit. They’re grinders over there. They got into our bullpen again and there you have it. It’s the same story.”
By winning eight of its last 10, Oakland is now four games over .500 for the first time since 2014