Sean Manaea tried distancing himself as far away from baseball as possible after a disappointing performance in last year’s American League Wild Card Game. He went as far as embarking on a four-week overseas journey through Asia, wandering the foreign streets by himself as a way to make peace with
Sean Manaea tried distancing himself as far away from baseball as possible after a disappointing performance in last year’s American League Wild Card Game. He went as far as embarking on a four-week overseas journey through Asia, wandering the foreign streets by himself as a way to make peace with what transpired last October at the Coliseum. But Manaea knew he would never fully get over it until his second chance came around.
Here it is.
Nearly a year to the day he gave up four runs, including three homers, over a two-inning start in that Oct. 2 AL Wild Card Game, Manaea will get his shot at redemption. The left-hander will start for the A’s in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Astros on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. Chris Bassitt, who tossed seven-plus innings of one-run ball in his postseason debut in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series against the White Sox, will start Game 1 for the A’s.
“He wants another opportunity. He’s quite a competitor,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Manaea. “For a jovial guy, he gets fired up to pitch. He understood how we were going about it in the last series but was itching to pitch.
“Any time you have a memory like that, you want to get back and erase that. It’s important for him to pitch again, and I think he’s ready for it.”
Manaea starting Game 2 on Tuesday will put him at 12 days between starts. His last outing came on Sept. 23 -- also at Dodger Stadium -- when he allowed three runs and struck out four over six innings against the Dodgers.
In his lone start against the Astros in the regular season, Manaea was dominant. He carried a perfect game into the sixth inning on Sept. 10 at the Coliseum, finishing with one run allowed on two hits over seven innings.
Over his past six starts, Manaea has posted a 2.65 ERA, with 27 strikeouts over 34 innings.
“We had Sean teed up to go Game 3 last series but didn’t do that,” Melvin said. “We want to get him going as quickly as we can based on the fact that he was pitching really well at the end of the season.”
Bassitt starting in Game 1 was an easy choice. The right-hander was Oakland’s top starter in the regular season, with his 2.29 ERA ranking third lowest among AL starters. Including his strong outing in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series, Bassitt finished September having allowed just two runs over 33 2/3 innings.
With no days off in between games in the ALDS, the decision to start Bassitt in Game 1 also affords him enough rest to pitch out of the bullpen in a potential Game 5.
“I talked to him about giving him an extra day, but he didn’t want it,” Melvin said. “He wanted to stay on turn. He likes the routine of five days, and it’s nice to pitch him in Game 1. It’s a nice reward for him.”
Khris finding his groove
The amount of playing time for Khris Davis entering the postseason was uncertain after he struggled for most of the regular season. But after driving the ball well in the AL Wild Card Series (solo shot to deep left in Game 2), the A’s slugger may have earned himself more of a regular role for the ALDS.
“This is the best work in a while. He’s been really confident,” Melvin said. “You saw the home run. It feels good. With [Matt Chapman] out and maybe us not hitting as many home runs, I think he’ll be an important piece in this series. We’ll see about starting every single game, but he’s played his way into a much bigger role.”
Martin Gallegos covers the A's for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MartinJGallegos.