HOUSTON -- Athletics left-hander Sean Manaea stood for six innings, with few blemishes, against the strongest offense in baseball on Friday, far outperforming any of his previous three starts this month.
He induced five groundouts and four flyouts in a 95-pitch outing in Oakland's 3-1 loss to Houston at Minute Maid Park. Manaea rebounded from his last start, when he allowed six earned runs and didn't complete the first inning vs. Baltimore, and he hadn't completed four innings in three straight starts.
"This game is huge for me," Manaea said. "I definitely needed to bounce back, especially after the last three starts. Overall, I thought I did a pretty good job. I was locating my fastball to righties and getting some weak contact."
"Once he got through the first couple of innings, it looked like he settled back in on the mound and felt like there's a good chance he's going to get deep into the game," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
Other than allowing back-to-back homers by Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve with two outs in the third inning, Manaea appreciably limited the Astros -- MLB's top offensive club with 1,225 hits and 694 runs, averaging 5.69 runs per game -- to three runs and six hits (four singles in addition to the two home runs).
"As soon as I let go of it, I knew it, I kind of knew it was going to be a bad pitch," Manaea said of Altuve's long ball. "He put a good swing on it, and unfortunately it was a home run. It is what it is."
As for the Bregman homer, Manaea said: "That was kind of a different story, I guess. I had fallen behind 2-0 and I kind of, in the back of my head, I kind of knew it was going to be a bad pitch. Not a bad pitch, but a bad time to throw a middle fastball behind 2-0. I didn't have that conviction, and it was definitely a mistake pitch. He made me pay for it."
Manaea was 0-2 with a 9.31 ERA and .400 opponents batting average in his five starts prior to Friday.
"Overall, I'm happy with it," he said, "and I'll try to build off this."