A pair of homers from DH Mitch Moreland, the first A’s grand slam of 2021 from Matt Olson, and seven scoreless innings from Sean Manaea lifted the Oakland to a 7-0 win over the Minnesota Twins in the first game of a doubleheader Tuesday.
The A’s have now won nine straight headed into game two of Tuesday’s doubleheader, needed after at least four positive Covid tests in the Twins organization postponed Monday’s series opener.
Manaea (W, 2-1, 3,04 ERA) received a standing ovation from fans after he finished his post-game interview on the field as he headed into the clubhouse. He smiled proudly exiting the field after a dominant, seven-strikeout performance. Manaea explained how easy it is to pitch when the team’s offense is shining:
“It was a great outing. Probably one of my better ones I would say. It really helps when the guys are hitting bombs… just attacking them honesty. Making them work and just attacking with my fastball.”
Mitch Moreland (1) snapped his 0-for-5 hitting streak despite hitting the walk-off on Sunday which was ruled an error. Moreland raked his first homer of the season off Matt Shoemaker in the second inning to give the A’s their first two runs of the day. Moreland had four homers off Shoemaker prior to Tuesday’s game and had six by the end of the day.
Bob Melvin was well aware of Moreland’s success against the Twins starter:
“It got us going right away and he has had some history off Shoemaker too so we brought him in for a reason, he’s gotten big hits already, gotten so many big hits this season it feels like, he is quite at home at this ballpark. Hitting a couple home runs after a walk off the day before, he is really starting to feel really good at the plate and that is usually when his power comes when he is feeling good at the plate.”
A Ramón Laureano single to lead off the third was the second hit of the game before Moreland stepped up to the plate and launched another ball to left-field for a solo shot (2) to make it 3-0.
Moreland had two of the A’s first three hits before Matt Olson added on four more. Elvis Andrus singled to right for the fourth hit off Shoemaker (L, 1-1, 6.28 ERA) to keep the fourth inning alive. Mark Canha walked on four straight balls before Shoemaker was relieved after 3-1/3 innings where he allowed five runs off four hits and four walks but didn’t strike out a single batter.
A’s starters have a friendly competition trying to one-up each other every start. Manaea on how the starting rotation has been during this 10-game win streak:
“I think I have evolved from last year and years before that. I don’t want to stay stagnant so I just have to keep evolving… I think thats what I have kind of learned. Not to be super nitpicky and hit super-fine points, just try attacking guys in a certain area.”
Jorge Alcalá entered the game in the fourth with runners on first and second with one out. Andrus stole second and third and Canha stole second to put runners on first and second with two outs after Laureano struck out looking. Lowrie walked to load the bases and then Olson decided to clear the bases, blasting a line drive grand slam that literally hit the foul pole in right field to make it 7-0. Alcalá was relieved after a costly two-thirds of an inning.
Manaea struggled but managed to escape when the top of the Twins order came up for a second plate appearance. Manaea gave up back-to-back hits — a Mitch Garver double and a Josh Donaldson single — but stranded both runners.
“As much as I want to be the guy that’s throwing 100, that’s not me. I got to utilize what I have and bring to the table and its kind of freeing in a way. Just accepting who I am as a pitcher and just utilize what I have and what I have is pretty good when I can throw stuff for strikes.”
Manaea gave up singles to Bryon Buxton and Willians Astudillo in the sixth but the Twins were otherwise silent. Manaea allowed another runner in the seventh but could only point the finger at himself. He tried to field a soft bloop ball down the first base line with his glove two steps away from first, but couldn’t make a clean play and it was ruled a hit. Laureano dropped a high hit ball in shallow center to keep the inning alive instead of ending it.
The A’s walked seven times in their 7-0 win, and also stole four bases, which they had not done since 2017.
The A’s originally had a three-game series starting on Monday but due to the Minnesota Twins dealing with Covid testing issues, a doubleheader was set for 3:30 p.m. Jesús Luzardo (0-1, 8.31 ERA) and José Berríos (2-1, 3.38 ERA) will both get their fourth starts of the season in game two of Tuesday’s doubleheader. First pitch will be 30 minutes following the final out of first game.
Stephen Piscotty has been reinstated off the paternity list which resulted in Rule 5 player Ka’ai Tom to being designated for assignment. The A’s are allowed a 27-man roster for their doubleheader and called up Reymin Guduan from the alternate site to help out the bullpen on a 14-inning day. … The A’s have shut out their opponent in three of the last four games. … Tuesday’s win stands as Sean Manaea’s second career complete game shutout. … Both of Moreland’s home runs came on 0-2 counts. Since pitch count data was tracked beginning in 1988, he is the first Athletic with two 0-2 homers in the same game.