Manaea reinvents himself in win over Texas

May 17th, 2016

OAKLAND -- A new haircut, a new grip on his changeup and a steady, crisp fastball proved to be the perfect formula for A's left-hander Sean Manaea to get his first Major League win.

Six days after getting knocked around by the Red Sox when he couldn't make it out of the third inning, the 24-year-old rookie pitcher stifled the Rangers' potent lineup most of the night and gave the A's weary bullpen a much-needed rest in the A's 3-1 win on Monday.

"To get us as deep as he did in the game like that and to keep them to one run is a pretty tall order. Impressive," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "He just kept the ball out of the middle of the plate. As far as his stuff and command, where he was throwing the ball, this was by far his best."

Manaea (1-1) gave up just four hits, struck out three and walked one over 6 2/3 innings. That was in stark contrast to his previous start when the Red Sox battered him for eight earned runs in just 2 2/3 innings.

"I was able to go in on guys and get a couple of broken bats and get some quick outs," Manaea said. "They're looking for the inside fastball and then I just threw the changeup out there. It was a lot better instead of right down the middle."

Even before the loss to Boston, Manaea had been tinkering with the grip on his changeup. He had been using a four-seam grip he learned during his time with the Royals, but went back to a grip he used in college.

Coupled with new-found command of his fastball, Manaea used the changeup nicely against the Rangers. He retired 15 of the first 18 batters he faced and didn't give up a run until Drew Stubbs' sacrifice fly with one out in the seventh.

"It feels a lot better in my hand and it just feels like it's coming out like a fastball," Manaea said of his changeup. "I feel like I'm able to control it and throw it for strikes. It all came together today. I just had that good feeling of being able to locate my fastball, and having that changeup too."

A change in hairstyle didn't hurt either. Manaea had curly, shoulder-length locks since being called up from the minors but was sporting a closely cropped look on Monday.

"The first three starts didn't go as well as I wanted to, and as a team we were kind of struggling," Manaea said. "I just felt like it was time for a change."

The A's clearly needed it.

Oakland's starting rotation has been plagued by injuries and poor pitching all season. A's starters had gone fewer than four innings in four of the previous seven games and had a collective 5.83 ERA that was the second-highest in the majors behind Milwaukee.

Manaea, the 34th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, helped get the rotation back on track with his best outing of the season.