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Athletics' Manaea faces Astros' McCullers in key matchup

By Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange
Athletics' Manaea faces Astros' McCullers in key matchup
Lance McCullers Jr. and the Houston Astros take on the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday. Photo by Lori Shepler/UPI | License Photo

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Lance McCullers Jr. and Sean Manaea are set for a rematch of one of the most unusual games of the 2017 season when the Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics duel for the second time in a three-game series Tuesday night.

The Astros got the series off to a powerful start Monday when George Springer went 6-for-6 and Marwin Gonzalez drove in five runs in a 16-2 triumph.

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When last seen in Oakland, Manaea was no-hitting the Boston Red Sox in a 3-0 victory on April 21.

The 26-year-old left-hander followed that up with another brilliant outing, limiting the Astros to one unearned run and just four hits over seven innings in an 8-1 win in Houston.

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McCullers was even better the next night, shutting out the A's over seven innings in an 11-0 win. He allowed only two hits.

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Runs were a lot easier to come by when Manaea and McCullers went head-to-head in Oakland last April 15.

Manaea pitched five no-hit innings that night, only to be pulled from the game by manager Bob Melvin after issuing three straight walks to open the sixth, with Oakland winning 5-0.

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Manaea had thrown 98 pitches at that point. He walked five and struck out six in his five-plus innings.

A little more than a year later, Manaea got his no-hitter, this time allowed to complete a 108-pitch effort against the Red Sox.

The Astros scored twice in Manaea's final inning without getting a hit in the contest last April, then broke up the no-hitter when Nori Aoki led off the seventh with a single off the third A's pitcher, Liam Hendricks.

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Houston went on to score two more runs in the seventh, four in the eighth and two in the night for a wild 10-6 win.

George Springer, who went 6-for-6 in Monday's shellacking of the A's, had a two-run homer in the Houston comeback.

McCullers was gone well before the Astros collected their first hit. He allowed Oakland's first five runs, one of which came on a homer by Khris Davis.

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McCullers (4-1, 373) has been stingy with the runs this season. He'd won three straight, allowing a total of just two runs, before giving up three in a 6-5 loss Thursday to the Yankees in his most recent start. He did not get a decision in that game.

He has pitched in Oakland just once his career, the aforementioned 10-6 win last April. He's gone 2-1 with a 3.67 ERA overall against Oakland in his career.

Manaea (4-3, 1.63) has made nine career starts against the Astros, going 2-3 with a 2.12 ERA.

He's going to have to figure out a way to cool Astros bats that have beaten up on A's pitching for 35 runs and 40 hits in their last three meetings.

Springer has a home run in each of the three games. Gonzalez and Derek Fisher have two apiece, while Jose Altuve has one.

A's pitching had been on a nice run before Monday's debacle, allowing just 17 runs in six games since leaving Houston on April 29. Oakland won four of those games.

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