Lou Trivino got the win and Andrew Chafin the save, but the man of the hour for the A’s Tuesday night was Burch Smith in a 10-inning road win over Cleveland.
Smith picked up for a struggling Sean Manaea and threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings to get the bullpen rolling and the A’s eventually outlasted Cleveland courtesy of a two-out, run-scoring double in the top of the 10th by Jed Lowrie.
The Athletics improved to 65-48 with their fifth straight win, with the bullpen giving up one hit and no runs over the final 8 1/3 innings, with Cleveland falling to 55-56.
Smith was the first of six relievers to put Cleveland on lockdown, and was followed by an inning each from A.J. Puk, Yusmeiro Petit, Sergio Romo, Trivino and Chafin. Trivino improved to 5-4 in getting the win with a scoreless ninth, with Chafin stranding a Cleveland free runner on second in the 10th for his first save.
The A’s improved to 13-4 after a day off, but they won’t know what that feels like for awhile given they’re in a stretch of 15 straight days with a game.
“Burch was huge for us to give us that kind of length,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “You’re starting a stretch of 15 games in a row and if anyone can handle it it’s us because of our starters going deep in games. Sean just had one of those games where he didn’t have it today, but Burch was huge in giving us three-plus. Then we had to just use one inning from everybody else so everyone is still available tomorrow.”
Manaea lasted just 1 2/3 innings, at which time he’d thrown 69 pitches, before being removed from the game. The A’s trailed 3-1 and got within 3-2 on Seth Brown’s 14th home run of the season in the fourth inning.
Center fielder Starling Marte had a key stolen base in the eighth to set up the tying run, which scored on Lowrie’s ground out. It was Marte’s MLB-leading 30th stolen base and came when virtually everyone in the stadium expected it.
“There’s not too many guys that can do that nowadays,” Melvin said. “It’s more taking advantage of slow time or looking for a breaking ball. This is kind of a Rickey Henderson type — you know he’s going and even if you pitch out you might not get him.”
Smith had been used in just four of the A’s previous 29 games and not since Saturday. While Manaea was all over the place, Smith needed only 40 pitches to record 10 outs. Smith said he will often throw a “high intensity bullpen” on games in which he does not pitch to simulate the work he’d get in a game.
“Just knowing my role I just always try to be ready, watch how the game’s going,” Smith said. “(Sean) was getting into some deep counts and his pitch count was getting up there. I kind of knew we might make a move soon so I just tried to be ready. I knew in the situation I was in I had to eat up as many innings as I could and keep us in the ballgame.”
Lowrie, who came in hitting .367 with runners in scoring position, hit his game-winning double against losing pitcher Nick Wittgren. Elvis Andrus opened as the free runner at second, going to third ona one-out ground out by Marte. After Wittgren ran the count to 3-0 on Matt Olson, they completed the walk intentionally before Lowrie delivered.
Manaea, coming off a 4 1/3 inning game against San Diego in which he gave up five runs and took the loss, looked lost from the outset.
In getting five outs, it was Manaea’s shortest outing of the season, with his previous quick exit coming on May 14 against Boston when he gave up 10 hits in two innings before getting the hook.
Afterward, Manaea wasn’t interested in talking about the heat and humidity or any other factor for a subpar performance.
“I felt good. Wasn’t locating anything,” Manaea said. “They had some really good at-bats.”
Manaea walked three batters and continually sailed pitches high and outside to right-handed batters. He gave up a run-scoring single to Harold Ramirez in the first inning and then appeared to get a break in the second.
After giving up a single to Owen Miller and walking Austin Hedges, Ernie Clement hit a grounder to short which turned into an unusual 6-4-5 double play, with Andrus getting the force at second and Josh Harrison cutting down Miller at third.
However, Myles Straw drove in a run with a double and Amed Rosario hit single to left that was misplayed by Canha, with Cleveland’s third run scoring on an error.
After Manaea walked Jose Ramirez, his day was done, having thrown 69 pitches to get five outs — 39 of them strikes.
A.J. PUK’S DEBUT
It was a different looking A.J. Puk for the A’s, who threw up a zero in a scoreless sixth in which he struck out two batters and threw just 11 pitches — eight for strikes.
Not only is the long hair gone, but Puk has dropped his arm angle slightly. He threw as hard as 98 miles per hour and appeared on command.
“It looks a lot freer for him and it doesn’t look like he has to work as hard,” Melvin said. “I can understand why he feels good with it.”
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Author: Jerry McDonald