Oakland Athletics: Pitchers Mystify Minnesota Hitters

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Jun 1, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sean Manaea (55) pitches the ball against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 1, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sean Manaea (55) pitches the ball against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Oakland Athletics mystified the Minnesota Twins with good and consistent pitching and got the sweep. Perhaps this rotation isn’t so weak after all!

Most of the time, I watch the Oakland Athletics on Comcast and enjoy the familiar and insightful A’s broadcasters, Ray Fosse and Glen Kuiper.  But on mid-week day games at the Coliseum, I watch on MLB network.

I certainly did not mind the Twins broadcasters Cory Provus and Dan Gladden.  But Gladden did say one odd thing after the Oakland Athletics had defeated the Twins 5-1 to complete the sweep.  He said, “It’s a mystery how the Twins couldn’t hit against the A’s when they did so well against an arguably better pitching staff in Seattle.”

Hmmmm….Let’s see, in their first game at Seattle, the Twins scored seven runs against an ailing Felix Hernandez.  In three games against the A’s, the Twins managed to score a total of seven runs.  Kendall Graveman, Eric Surkamp and Sean Manaea would all enjoy arguing about who was pitching better this week.  

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The Twins did not even see Oakland’s aces, Rich Hill and Jesse Hahn.  The bullpen pitched 10.1 innings and gave one (1) run in three games.

Yes, it was a total mystery how the weak, puny, depleted A’s pitching staff completely shut down the mighty Twinkes current holders of the worst record in baseball.

As I write this, Seattle is giving up 14 runs to their “traditional” National League rivals the powerhouse San Diego Padres.

A’s fans are eagerly awaiting the debut of Henderson Alvarez and the return of Sonny Gray.  In the meantime, it has been a lot of fun to watch Manaea develop at the major league level.  One thing I have noticed about this season is that the “shutdown” inning has often eluded the A’s pitching staff.

When the Oakland Athletics score to close the gap or take a lead, it can be kind of discouraging for a pitcher to go out in the next inning and cough up a run or even the lead.

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The Oakland Athletics scored single runs in five consecutive innings so Manaea had four opportunities for shutdown innings.  (Ryan Dull faced the other one.)  He came through on  three out of four of those innings.  In the sixth, with the A’s nursing a four run lead, the Twins loaded the bases with no outs.

Manaea worked out of it giving up just one run on a sacrifice fly.  He escaped further damage with a couple of strikeouts to go out with a flourish.  Even better, the A’s quickly scored a run in the bottom of the sixth to restore the four run lead.

With good consistent starting pitching, the offense is suddenly becoming much more productive.  Danny Valencia is on fire.  He has been ripping line drives to all fields.  Jake Smolinski hit a long home run to deep left.

Billy Butler, who seems to have a certain happy enthusiasm when he plays first base, had two hits and an RBI.  He even sort of stole third base on a wild pitch that did not really get very far from the catcher.

Next: Farm System Lacking on the 2016 Roster

It was a very successful home stand for the Oakland Athletics.  They took two out of three from the Tigers and they swept the Twins.  Let us all hope that the “arguably weak” pitching staff can keep it going on the road in Houston.

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