Right-handed Dane Dunning gets the chance to relive the shortest and most important start of his young career when the Texas Rangers and hosts Oakland Athletics conclude their streak of three games on Thursday afternoon.
The clubs split the first two games of the set and, in fact, alternated wins and losses over a six-game period that began last Monday in Texas.
The 26-year-old Dunning (3-6, 4.63 ERA) has not served in any of the six games, and he has never played neck-to-neck with the A’s in either of his regular season seasons.
But when pitching for the Chicago White Sox last year, Dunning was called in to begin crucial Game 3 of the American League Wild Card series in Oakland.
Dunning did his job as an “opener” holding the A’s without a run even though he left after just four thugs and hit two of them – Tommy La Stella and Mark Canha.
Garrett Crochet beat Matt Olson to finish the first, but Oakland eventually bounced back from a 3-0 deficit to advance to the AL Divisional Series with a 6-4 win over the Houston Astros.
The dunning process was distributed to the Rangers in December for Lance Lynn along with minor division player Avery Weems.
Dunning arrives on Friday after a 9-4 win over the Kansas City Royals. He allowed two runs and five hits in five innings. He benefited from a fourth four-run inning that included a single from Joey Gallo, one of seven hits the bat has recorded in his last five games.
Every other hit Gallo has logged on the track has been a home run, including a solo shot in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s 3-1 loss.
“He’s on another planet right now,” enthused Rangers manager Chris Woodward. “He’s pretty humble about everything, especially when he’s successful. He takes good turns in good places and they don’t come back.”
The pitcher who will hold Gallo’s baseballs in the ballpark is A’s left-handed Sean Manaea (6-4, 2.91), who has given Gallo a hit – a home run – in 15 head-to-head careers matches.
Manaea has dominated the other 14, beating the thug seven times when he went 0v12 with a walk and a hit batsman.
The 29-year-old has won 6-0 in his last eight starts against Texas since April 2017. In 13 career starts against the Rangers he is 7-2 with a 3.41 ERA.
Manaea will take the hill on a two-game losing streak, but he did well in both, giving up a total of three runs and six hits in 11 1/3 innings on the road against the New York Yankees and the San Francisco Giants.
Frank Schwindel, promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas the day before, made an instant impression on A.
A manager Bob Melvin wasn’t surprised.
“He put up really good numbers,” remarked Melvin of Dizziness 16 homers in 44 games for Las Vegas. “At this time of year you are trying to figure out what you think is the best that can help you, and we feel like he’s the guy.”