SAN FRANCISCO -- It was only appropriate that the A's capped their fruitful first half with a win Sunday.The American League Wild Card contenders put together a four-run fourth inning that fueled a 6-2 victory over the Giants behind Sean Manaea, taking two of three from their Bay rivals at
SAN FRANCISCO -- It was only appropriate that the A's capped their fruitful first half with a win Sunday.
The American League Wild Card contenders put together a four-run fourth inning that fueled a 6-2 victory over the Giants behind Sean Manaea, taking two of three from their Bay rivals at AT&T Park.
The A's spent the majority of April and May straddling .500, much like outsiders expected of them, before swiftly flipping the narrative with a remarkable push. They're an MLB-best 21-6 since June 16 to move a season-high 13 games over .500, at 55-42, and are within three games of a Wild Card spot after the Mariners were swept in Colorado on Sunday.
"I think we're playing really confident baseball and we're making a charge here, so we're really happy with how we finished," said A's outfielder Stephen Piscotty, whose sixth-inning solo homer gave him five in nine games and 12 overall. "We're right there, so we're excited to keep going."
The A's patchwork rotation -- utilizing 12 starters -- has managed to keep up throughout, stabilized by the man who scripted one of the club's most memorable moments of the first half. Manaea, who twirled a no-hitter against the Red Sox on April 21, delivered six strong innings Sunday, allowing two runs on five hits -- including a solo homer by Chase d'Arnaud -- to bring his ERA to 3.42 ahead of the break.
Manaea is the lone member of Oakland's Opening Day rotation still standing. Kendall Graveman, demoted to Triple-A in April, is on the Minor League disabled list; Daniel Gossett and Andrew Triggs are on the big league DL, and Daniel Mengden just got off it and was optioned to the Minors.
A hodgepodge of arms have surfaced in their stead, their biggest ally being a dominant bullpen. Matched with a homer-happy offense, the A's are rolling, taking a winning record into the break for the first time since 2014.
Ryan Buchter, Lou Trivino and All-Star closer Blake Treinen teamed up for three scoreless innings out of the bullpen to help them secure another series victory. They haven't lost any of their last nine.
"I looked at our lineup specifically, and I thought that we would have one of the better lineups in the game," All-Star second baseman Jed Lowrie said. "Our bullpen has been absolutely lights-out, next to automatic. We've had a little inconsistency with the starters just because we've had almost a revolving door.
"I think everybody would be pleasantly surprised to be 13 games above .500 at the All-Star break, but not in the sense that the talent isn't in the room. It's just that when you have a lot of young guys, sometimes it takes time for those guys to develop and win, and that's why it's been so impressive to watch that maturation process."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Manaea trailed, 1-0, before the offense picked him up with a barrage of base hits in the fourth. In an un-A's-like way, they strung four in a row together against Giants lefty Andrew Suarez following a one-out walk to Lowrie, each one moving a man two bases.
Mark Canha, Piscotty, Matt Olson and Matt Chapman formed the conga line, with Jonathan Lucroy capping the frame with a sacrifice fly.
"What impressed me the most is he's got a good sinker, and we're going to have a tough time getting them in the air, so the guys were just first to third, first to third, first to third, and that's a different dynamic for us," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Hitting the ball the other way, running the bases, taking the extra base ... anytime we can have an inning like that where we're scoring without the home run gives us some confidence that we can continue to score and string hits together."
With two extra-base hits Sunday, the A's brought their running total to 321 -- a franchise record for most at the break. The previous mark was 317 (1996). Of the 321 hits, 127 were homers.
HE SAID IT
"I didn't even look at the scoreboard today, but the guys mentioned it when they were coming off the field, so I know where we are right now." -- Melvin
Following the All-Star break, the A's and Giants will resume play across the Bay for a three-game set in Oakland, beginning with Friday's 6:35 p.m. PT matchup. The A's have taken 14 of their last 20 against the Giants at the Coliseum.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.