Marte's 3-hit night not enough vs. Padres

Outfielder hits first home run with A's, but off-night for Manaea spells loss

August 4th, 2021

OAKLAND -- In the short time since being acquired by the A's before the Trade Deadline, is building a strong case as baseball’s best midseason acquisition.

With each passing day, Marte seems to show off a different part of his tantalizing skillset. On Tuesday, it was his power on display as he laced a solo shot into the Coliseum’s left-field bleachers. But even as he finished a triple shy of the cycle with a 3-for-4 night, Marte’s one-man show was not enough on a rare off-night by Sean Manaea in an 8-1 loss to the Padres.

Aside from Marte, the rest of the A’s offense struggled to cash in on golden opportunities. A’s batters went hitless in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position through the first four innings and finished 0-for-13 in such situations. On the other side, San Diego went 4-for-6 against Manaea with runners in scoring position through the first four frames, with five of their first six runs scored coming on two-out hits.

There were multiple moments in which the A’s appeared to have Padres starter Blake Snell on the ropes early. Each of the first three innings saw the A’s get a runner on third with less than two outs, yet they came away scoreless each time. In total, Oakland left eight runners on base.

“We got some guys on. We ran some and put some pressure on them. We just didn’t put good at-bats together in those situations,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “They know what to do. They know they’re trying to get a ball in the air with a guy on third and less than two outs. We hit a couple of balls hard in those situations, [we] just didn’t get ourselves in better position to score some runs.”

Making a second consecutive start against the Padres, Manaea’s outing on Tuesday produced results in stark contrast to the one he turned in at Petco Park last week. In San Diego, the left-hander carried a perfect game into the sixth before finishing with six scoreless innings and a win. This time around, Manaea was pulled with one out in the fifth and ended up allowing five earned runs on eight hits, marking his shortest outing since May 13 and just the fifth time he’s allowed more than one run in an outing over his last 13 starts.

It was an inauspicious start to the game for Manaea. He followed up a leadoff homer surrendered to Tommy Pham in the first with three more runs allowed in the second, with all three scoring after he recorded the first two outs of the frame.

Asked what was the difference was between these two wildly different games against San Diego, Manaea said, “Everything. They were pretty much on everything. I was just throwing balls to their barrels.”

Given Manaea’s success for the majority of the season and the rarity of Oakland’s magnified struggles with runners in scoring position -- the A’s previously had never gone worse than 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position in a game this year -- better days should be ahead if Marte continues his rapid pace on offense.

Marte’s solo shot off Snell in the the fifth, his first as a member of the A’s, was blasted 108.1 mph off the bat and traveled a projected 413 feet, per Statcast. Since joining the A’s in a trade from the Marlins on July 28, Marte is batting .400 (8-for-20) with a homer, a double, three walks, four runs scored and five stolen bases in five games. His stolen base in the third on Tuesday was also his 27th of the year, which is tied with Kansas City’s Whit Merrifield for most in the Majors.

“I like stealing bases,” Marte said. “I try to always take one or two per game. That’s the reason why I’ve been around the league leaders in stolen bases. It’s just part of battling every day and doing whatever I can every day.”

Few have been swinging a hotter stick than Marte dating back to the All-Star break. In 16 games since the break, the outfielder is batting .443 with 12 runs, 10 stolen bases and nine multi-hit games over that stretch.

“The way he plays is exciting,” Melvin said. “Whether it’s stealing bases or hitting the ball the other way. You also see some great plays in the outfield. He’s an electric player and a lot of fun to watch. We knew that coming in, now we’re getting it firsthand to see what a distraction he can be on the bases for pitchers. Off to a great start for us.”