Baltimore Orioles

Instant Analysis: Orioles rough up Manaea, power past Athletics


Instant Analysis: Orioles rough up Manaea, power past Athletics


OAKLAND — A 26-minute top of the first pretty much decided the outcome Saturday night at the Coliseum.

One big issue was left unresolved, however, by the time the A’s 12-5 loss to Baltimore finally wrapped:

What exactly is wrong with Sean Manaea right now?

The lefty faced just seven batters, giving up a walk and then six hits in a row, before A’s manager Bob Melvin called on his bullpen way earlier than he could have anticipated. The Orioles plated seven runs by the time the A’s finally returned to their dugout to bat for the first time.

The rest of the night was just filler for a crowd of 29,742 that at least had a postgame fireworks show to look forward to.

This was the third consecutive poor start for Manaea (8-7), and by far the most troubling of them. The only out recorded while he was on the mound came on a 7-6-2 putout at home plate on Adam Jones’ double.

The Orioles put good wood on anything he threw near the plate. Melvin suggested after Manaea’s previous two outings that it was merely fatigue that the lefty was fighting through. But the fact that Manaea’s fastball started out in the 88-89 mile-per-hour range Saturday, and topped out at just 91, left it open as to whether something might be bothering him physically.

The second-year starter was dialed in during an 11-start stretch from May to mid-July during which he went 7-2 with a 2.92 ERA. But over his past five outings, he is 0-2 with a 9.31 ERA and a .400 opponents’ batting average.

It was another night Saturday when the bullpen phone rang way too early. Six times over the past 15 contests A’s starters have completed fewer than four innings. Michael Brady at least kept things manageable for Melvin, relieving Manaea and eating up 5 1/3 innings while allowing three runs.

The Orioles finished with 20 hits and eight doubles, one shy of the franchise record.

There were however a few developments for A’s fans to cheer as they passed the time until fireworks. Khris Davis connected for his 32nd homer, a two-run shot to center in the first. Matt Olson went deep for the second night in a row.

Center fielder Boog Powell also had an active night in his A’s debut. After being scratched from Friday’s lineup following an asthma attack that sent him to the emergency room, Powell walked and singled in his first two plate appearances before striking out in his final three at-bats. He made a great throw to second to nail Mark Trumbo on the slugger’s base hit off the wall in center. Credit to Olson, the first baseman, for covering second base and being there to make the tag.

Report: In odd scenario, Giants add another prospect to 2017 draft class

Report: In odd scenario, Giants add another prospect to 2017 draft class

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants were already thrilled with their 2017 draft class. It has now reportedly gotten a bit deeper. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the Giants are in agreement with right-hander Jack Conlon, a fourth-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles who became a free agent after the Orioles failed him on a physical. Per draft rules, a team must offer a player 40 percent of his slot value if he fails a physical in order to get a compensation pick. The Orioles did not, so Conlon became a free agent. Per Baseball America, the Orioles -- who have a long and checkered history with physicals -- did not offer Conlon a contract. 

Conlon is a high school pitcher out of Sugarland, Texas. Baseball America's scouting report notes he has a fastball that touches 95 mph and "a sharp slider that competes in the strike zone." Conlon was a Texas A&M commit. 

Per Rosenthal, the new deal is also pending a physical, but the Giants generally have never had a problem in that department. 

The organization's top two picks, Heliot Ramos and Jacob Gonzalez, have torn up the Arizona Rookie League since turning pro.

Stiglich: Why Orioles closer Zach Britton got my vote for AL Cy Young

Stiglich: Why Orioles closer Zach Britton got my vote for AL Cy Young

With all apologies to Kate Upton, choosing the 2016 American League Cy Young winner was no obvious call.

I had the honor and responsibility of voting for the Cy Young this year. And the longer I pored over the names and statistics, the tougher the decision became in sorting out my five finalists.

In the end, I was one of five people among the 30 voters to go with Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton as my winner. I went with Boston’s Rick Porcello, who wound up taking home the award, second; Detroit’s Justin Verlander third; Cleveland’s Corey Kluber fourth and the White Sox’s Chris Sale fifth.

Generally speaking, I’ve always shared the widely held belief that starters are more deserving of the Cy Young than relievers. They throw significantly more innings. They have a bigger impact on the game they pitch simply because they’re on the mound longer.

Try to distinguish between the dominance of a starter and reliever over an entire season, and how do you compare apples-to-apples?

The more I studied Britton’s case, the tougher I found it to ignore what he accomplished. A perfect 47-for-47 in save opportunities, a 0.54 ERA that ranks as the lowest ever for a pitcher who threw at least 50 innings. The lefty threw 67 innings and surrendered just four earned runs.

That to me put him over the top against a field of starters that was outstanding, but as I saw it, didn’t present an obvious choice that stood out above the rest. Porcello had Verlander beat handily in wins (22 to 16) but Verlander had the better ERA (3.04 to 3.15).

Verlander smoked Porcello when it came to strikeouts (254 to 189) and held the edge in opponents’ batting average (.207 to .230). Porcello allowed fewer home runs (23 to 30) and fewer walks (32 to 57) though both right-handers had nearly the same amount of innings (223 for Porcello, 227 2/3 for Verlander). Their WHIPs (Verlander 1.00, Porcello 1.01) were nearly identical and led the league.

Verlander finished second in the voting to Porcello despite earning the most first-place votes with 14. (Kluber finished third, with Britton fourth and Sale fifth). Verlander strangely wasn’t even named on two of the 30 ballots, which proved huge in giving the Cy Young to Porcello. That also set off an epic Twitter tirade from Upton, the supermodel who’s engaged to Verlander. Must-see reading if you haven’t done so yet.

Kluber had a very strong case himself. But in the end, none of that trumped Britton’s accomplishments.

There’s nothing more deflating for a major league team than sending its closer to the mound to protect a ninth-inning lead and walking off the field in defeat after he’s coughed it up. The psychological effect lingers in the clubhouse afterward. It’s palpable.

But it’s a part of the game, and it happens on occasion even to the best closers.

Except to Britton in 2016. And his excellence was enough to get my vote.