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Sean Manaea injured as A’s lose their third straight

Yonder Alonso hit his fourth homer of the month Wednesday. He had only seven in all of 2016 for the A’s.

ANAHEIM – Just 24 hours after it seemed like there were difficult decisions ahead regarding overcrowding in the Oakland starting rotation, a Wednesday injury to Sean Manaea underscored to the A’s you can never have too much pitching.

Manaea lasted just two innings against the Angels in a game whose result, an 8-5 loss, became secondary to the state of the Oakland rotation.

Manaea allowed four hits, including three doubles, over the space of five batters in the second inning and had trouble reaching 90 mph in the process while giving up three runs. He was lifted with what the A’s described as left shoulder tightness.

The A’s get one starter off the disabled list Thursday night with Kendall Graveman due to face the Angels, and they will get another back early next week when Sonny Gray pitches in Minnesota against the Twins in what will be his first start of the season.

Making room for those two was likely going to push Jesse Hahn out of the rotation. He’d been brilliant Tuesday with eight scoreless one-hit innings in what turned out to be an 11-inning 2-1 loss. But the numbers were stacked against him. Manaea came into the season as the left-handed lock in the rotation and Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs have done well in the other two spots.

Whether or not Manaea is going to miss a start or two has yet to be determined, but any loss of starts by the left-hander can only benefit Hahn, who has put together three consecutive quality starts after taking over the No. 5 slot in the rotation from Raul Alcantara, who has since been designated for assignment.

In trying to pitch the A’s out of a two-game losing streak, Manaea opened up by retiring the first four batters he faced. Things changed when four of the next five men reached base, three of them on doubles.

And Manaea, who generally works in the 93-95 mph range, showed a noticeable dropoff in his velocity in what was his fifth start of the season.

He’d been hit hard in his first two starts against the Angels and Rangers, giving up 10 runs, nine earned, combined. Manaea followed that up, however, by allowing one earned run in back-to-back starts against the Astros and the Mariners before Wednesday’s short duty.

Oakland’s offense went after Angels’ starter Matt Shoemaker hard in the first inning a single by Jed Lowrie and an errant throw by Shoemaker getting Lowrie to second base. Khris Davis and Stephen Vogt both walked with two out, setting up a two-run Yonder Alonso single.

After the Angels stretched their lead to 4-2 with a run off reliever Frankie Montas in the fifth, Alonso opened the sixth with his fourth homer to get Oakland within a run at 4-3. This has been the best homer month of Alonso’s career. He’s never reached double figures in homers in a season. Last year he went deep seven times, and the fourth one didn’t come until July 8.

Oakland added two more runs on a homer by Matt Joyce in the eighth, but that came after reliever Ryan Dull had been charged with four runs, two of them earned, in the bottom of the seventh. An error by catcher Stephen Vogt on a collision play at the plate extended the inning with Dull getting just two outs before Cesar Valdez finished up.

NOTES

  • After giving up a solo homer in the 10th inning to Mike Trout in a blown save attempt Tuesday, A’s closer Santiago Casilla said he was ready for another shot at Trout, the Angels’ MVP. “That would be perfect,” he said about a Trout rematch in this series with the game on the line. “I’d like to face him again. I want that. The game is in the past, but I’d like that same opportunity to come back and close the game.”
  • Kendall Graveman comes off the disabled list Thursday, his shoulder no longer sore, and he’s ready to face the Angels. “I won’t be changing much of anything,” he said. “I’m just going to go out there and challenge people. After missing 10 days or whatever, I want to get back to where I was in my first three starts.” Graveman, the opening day starter with Sonny Gray on the disabled list, allowed just four runs total in his first three starts and will bring a 2-0 record and 2.00 ERA into the series finale with the Angels.
  • Chris Bassitt, coming back from last year’s Tommy John surgery, will get his first injury rehabilitation start Saturday in San Jose while pitching for the Class-A Stockton Ports. He’s slated to throw between 35 and 40 pitches.
  • Right-hander Daniel Mengden, coming off right foot surgery, had two sets of 20 pitches each on Tuesday. Melvin said that Mengden has done such a good job of keeping his arm in shape, he might be back sooner than might otherwise be expected.
  • Melvin said center fielder Rajai Davis, due off the DL next week, may well want to play right now, but that the team needs his legs to be 100 percent. “Right now when he gets close to 100 percent, he still feels it a little,” the manager said.
  • Opposing base runners have been successful in 19 of their first 23 tries against Oakland before Wednesday, something Melvin says that pitchers and catchers both share some responsibility for. Only Pittsburgh has allowed more steals, and the stolen base percentage of 82.6 is fourth-highest in the majors.