Oakland’s Sean Manaea faces Rangers, looks to end losing streak
Right-hander Dane Dunning gets an opportunity to relive the shortest and most important start of his young career when the Texas Rangers and host Oakland Athletics wrap up their three-game series on Thursday afternoon.
The clubs have split the first two games of the set, and in fact have alternated wins and losses over a six-game span that began last Monday in Texas.
The 26-year-old Dunning (3-6, 4.63 ERA) hasn’t pitched in any of the six games, and he has never gone head-to-head with the A’s in the regular season in his two seasons.
But pitching last year for the Chicago White Sox, Dunning was called upon to start the decisive Game 3 of the American League Wild Card series in Oakland.
Dunning did his job as an “opener,” holding the A’s without a run despite leaving after facing just four batters and allowing hits to two of them — Tommy La Stella and Mark Canha.
Garrett Crochet came on to strike out Matt Olson to end the first, but Oakland eventually rallied from a 3-0 deficit to advance to the A.L. Divisional Series against the Houston Astros with a 6-4 win.
Dunning was dealt to the Rangers along with minor leaguer Avery Weems in December for Lance Lynn.
Dunning is coming off a 9-4 win over the Kansas City Royals on Friday. He allowed two runs and five hits in five innings. He benefited from a four-run fourth inning that included a single by Joey Gallo, one of seven hits the slugger has recorded in his last five games.
Every other hit Gallo has logged in the stretch has been a home run, including a solo shot in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s 3-1 loss.
“He’s on another planet right now,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward gushed. “He’s pretty humble about everything, especially when he’s having success. He’s putting good swings on good pitches, and they’re not coming back.”
The pitcher who will be assigned to keep Gallo’s baseballs in the ballpark is A’s left-hander Sean Manaea (6-4, 2.91), who has allowed one hit to Gallo — a home run — in 15 career head-to-head matchups.
Manaea has dominated the other 14, striking out the slugger seven times as he’s gone 0-for-12 with a walk and a hit batsman.
The 29-year-old has gone 6-0 in his last eight starts against Texas dating back to April 2017. In 13 career starts against the Rangers, he’s 7-2 with a 3.41 ERA.
Manaea will take the mound riding a two-game losing streak, but he pitched well in both, giving up a total of three runs and six hits in 11 1/3 innings on the road against the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants.
Promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas a day earlier, Frank Schwindel made an immediate impression on A’s fans in Wednesday’s win, crushing a two-run home run in his first Oakland at-bat.
A’s manager Bob Melvin wasn’t surprised.
“He was putting up really good numbers,” Melvin noted of Schwindel’s 16 homers in 44 games for Las Vegas. “This time of year, you’re trying to identify what you feel like is the best guy that can help you, and we feel like he is the guy.”
–Field Level Media