EditorsNote: updates fifth graf to reflect postgame scoring change
Manaea, Davis help Athletics avoid sweep by Angels
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Los Angeles Angels’ stay in the American League’s second wild-card spot turned out to be a short one.
One day after moving a half game past the Minnesota Twins and into playoff position, the Angels lost 3-1 to the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday afternoon and dropped a half game behind the Twins, who defeated Tampa Bay.
The Angels had no answer for A’s left-hander Sean Manaea, who pitched six shutout innings, or for Khris Davis, who went 3-for-3 with his AL-leading 39th home run, a double and two RBIs at Oakland Coliseum.
The A’s ended their season-long, eight-game losing streak and avoided a series sweep, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia took some positives out of the loss.
Angels left-hander Tyler Skaggs (1-5) allowed three runs and six hits in six innings, getting back on track after three rough starts and saving an overworked bullpen.
“It was huge. It’s really big,” Scioscia said. “You always want to win a game. Unfortunately, we didn’t do that this afternoon, but the fact that ‘Skaggsy’ got us through six helped us to at least get some guys some rest and recharge for Friday.”
After an off-day Thursday, the Angels open a three-game series Friday night at Seattle.
Manaea (10-9) allowed five hits, walked three and fanned six, his highest strikeout total in his past seven starts. After losing three straight decisions while mired in a nasty skid, Manaea won two of his past three starts. He allowed a combined five earned runs during that span.
“It felt great,” Manaea said. “The bullpen has been up a lot this last week, so I knew going into this game I needed to go somewhat deep. I just kept telling myself that I was going to. I was (in) attack mode all day.”
Skaggs struck out a season high-matching nine and walked one.
“That’s much more in line with what he can do,” Scioscia said.
The Angels came into the game after back-to-back wins in extra innings. They beat the A’s 11-9 in 11 innings on Monday and 8-7 in 10 innings on Tuesday. Wednesday’s game was low scoring but didn’t lack drama or controversy.
A’s rookie Matt Chapman was ejected from the game by home plate umpire Mike Everitt before his at-bat in the top of the fourth inning after exchanging words with Angels catcher Juan Graterol.
Graterol accused multiple A’s hitters of looking back and trying to steal his signs. Chapman took issue with Graterol and kept arguing his point after Everitt told him to stop.
“I think this went back to a couple of games ago,” Chapman said. “They thought that we were relaying signs to our hitters from second base, and then they also thought that a couple of guys on our team were peaking at the catcher’s signs. So when we were digging into the box today, as you can see on video I’m sure, the catcher kept staring at every single hitter.
“That’s not a very comfortable feeling having the catcher stare at you when you’re digging into the box. A little disrespectful to be honest. So when I got into the box, I just let him know that we weren’t stealing their signs and there was no need for that. He obviously didn’t take kindly to those words.”
Graterol said the A’s hitters were “kind of peaking at signs” and that he was just protecting his teammates when he stared at Oakland’s batters in the box.
“Tyler is doing a good job so I just take care of him,” Graterol said. “This is my family. That’s what we’re playing for.”
Davis gave the A’s a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when he lined an opposite-field, leadoff homer off Skaggs to right, above the out-of-town scoreboard. Davis moved past the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge into sole possession of the lead in the AL’s home run race.
Davis hit a career-high 42 home runs last season, his first with the A’s, and now has 81 blasts in 185 games for Oakland. He has a team-high 99 RBIs this season.
“It’s been amazing, it really has,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Davis exploits. “Pretty special talent as far as the power goes.”
Kole Calhoun went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI triple for the Angels.
The A’s increased their lead to 3-0 in the fifth inning. Marcus Semien lined a double down the left field line with one out and scored on Chad Pinder’s sharp single to left, barely beating left fielder Justin Upton’s strong throw home. Then with two outs, Pinder raced home when Upton lost Davis’ fly ball in the sun and it landed for a double.
The Angels cut Oakland’s lead to 3-1 in the eighth on Calhoun’s RBI triple.
Chris Hatcher pitched a perfect ninth for his first save of the season.
NOTES: Angels 1B/DH Albert Pujols missed Wednesday’s game against Oakland and returned to Los Angeles to receive treatment on his sore left knee and to be examined by doctors. The Angels have an off-day Thursday, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Pujols “will be ready to go” on Friday when they open a three-game series at Seattle. Los Angeles general manager Billy Eppler, however, told the Orange County Register that a plan for Pujols would be set after he was examined. Pujols aggravated the knee on Friday night against Texas when he slid into second base on a double. ... Angels CF Mike Trout set a franchise record in the first inning when he walked for the 14th consecutive game. ... Los Angeles RHP Bud Norris (right knee inflammation) was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list and pitched a scoreless seventh inning. ... A’s rookie 2B Franklin Barreto made his second start since being recalled Friday from Triple-A Nashville. Barreto went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.