OAKLAND — Sean Manaea insists there is no injury hindering him on the mound right now.
As for troubleshooting what has gone wrong over his past three starts, or how to correct it, the A’s left-hander didn’t offer many specifics after recording just one out Saturday in the shortest outing of his big league career.
“Honestly, I have no idea,” Manaea said. “I’m trying a whole bunch of different things and hopefully …. I can try to figure out how to get out of this rut. Right now I’m just trying to think about the positive things. I’ve got to carry on and try to wipe these kinds of games away.”
The Orioles sent 11 men to the plate in a seven-run first inning that paved the way to their 12-5 victory Saturday night at the Coliseum. Manaea was only around for seven of those batters. He allowed a walk, followed by six hits in succession, and A’s manager Bob Melvin went to his bullpen. Manaea was charged with six runs, the only out he recorded being a 7-6-2 play at the plate.
Some sort of physical ailment certainly wouldn’t be good news, but it would at least provide an explanation for Manaea’s recent struggles after he looked so dominant through an extended midseason stretch.
Over his past five starts, Manaea is 0-2 with a 9.31 ERA and a .400 opponents’ batting average. He wasn’t all that bad in the first two of those. But in his past three times out, Manaea has completed just 6 2/3 innings while allowing 13 earned runs on 21 hits.
“He was just missing some locations,” Melvin said of Saturday. “Balls in the middle of the plate. They hit some balls that were off the plate, in and away. It didn’t look like he had the feel for his slider. Another tough day for him.”
Manaea’s fastball didn’t top 91 miles per hour and at times sat in the high 80’s. Asked if he was concerned if that perhaps pointed to an injury, Melvin replied:
“It’s been down for a while here. Maybe it’s a dead arm state. Not dead arm, (but) it’s August. He’s got 100-plus innings. He got an extra day (of rest) this time, but he’s going to have to figure it out in his bullpens.”
Perhaps this is just a blip on the radar for a 25-year-old pitcher who is still figuring things out in just his second major league season.
The A’s aren’t playing for a postseason spot. They can afford to let Manaea work through this bout of turbulence. And if indeed there is no physical issue nagging at him, the mission is two-fold: First to identify what the problem is, and then go about fixing it.
It could be the first of those tasks is just as challenging as the second.