I noticed the other article about Daniel Mengden on the front page today and figured I'd take a gander. It was interesting, but what I really shouldn't have done was look at the comment section. The only comment was from a user who references even year magic in his signature - I'm not going to post the comment here so as to avoid polluting our board, but it would be obnoxious even by Facebook comment standards.
It's difficult to describe how stupid that comment is and how angry it made me, but they got one thing right: We lucked out with Daniel Mengden, and yet we've still managed to squander his talent so far. Mengden has thrown 18 quality innings for us at the major league level and has gotten precisely 2 runs of support. I really feel for the kid.
Mengden solid, again
This was arguably the worst of Daniel Mengden's 3 starts in Oakland this year and yet he still pitched a quality start, going 6 innings and giving up only 3 runs. If Oakland had a more competent defense (and admittedly part of that is on Mengden, who flubbed a play in the 5th), it's likely he would have given up 0 runs. Either way, he is extremely confident for such a young pitcher and seems to have a bright future ahead of him. He won't back down: He had 8 3-ball counts today and yet he gave up only one walk. He also notched 9 strikeouts, just one shy of Oakland's record in 2016.
Mengden's fastball didn't seem like its normal self in terms of command or velocity today, but especially in the 3rd inning. He was sitting around 89-91 and topping out at 92, which is a couple mph slower than we've seen in previous starts. In the third inning, he gave up 3 singles to load the bases with only 1 out. Scooter Gennett hit what should have been a sac fly to Billy Burns, but the Brewers 3rd base coach inexplicably held the runner, apparently not aware of how weak our outfield arms are. Maldonado at third base is slow, but is he really that slow? We got a really good Ray Fosse "Wow" out of that decision. Mengden made a couple of key pitches to induce a Ryan Braun strikeout and escape the bases loaded jam.
Strikeout number 6 came against Maldonado to start the 5th, but then a double by Ramon Flores off the wall in left field, along with an error by Coco Crisp on the throw back in, put Flores at 3rd. Rivera bunted into the safety squeeze and Mengden bobbled the ball, allowing Flores to score and Rivera to reach first safely - Mengden's bobble wasn't ruled an error, but back to back mistakes cost the A's yet another run. With two outs, Scooter Gennett hit a ball that just kept carrying somehow, out over the left field wall to put the Brewers up 3-1. Ken made it sound like a can of corn on the radio, but it wouldn't die. Braun singled again before Mengden could induce a pop-up to end the inning - an inning which should have ended with the A's still up 1-0 if they had an even passable defense.
Mengden notched strikeouts for all 3 outs in the 6th inning to bring his strikeout total for the day to 9. He threw 108 pitches through 6 innings and ended the day with exactly a 3.00 ERA.
Daniel Mengden is a confident pitcher with a strong arsenal of pitches - he used sliders liberally and threw changeups at 0-0 and 3-2, which is awesome and rare to see from a rookie. We saw him get back up to ~93 mph on several pitches in the middle innings, so maybe the lower velocity earlier was at least partially a result of pitching out of the stretch. Regardless, the dude is a joy to watch (or in my case today, listen to on the radio).
Bullpen: Hendriks does what he's done all year
Fernando Rodriguez came out to pitch the 7th and looked great doing it. He struck two batters out and the only hit given up was the bloopiest of bloop singles by who else but Scooter Gennett.
Hendriks is finally back in the major leagues after a long stint on the DL. He went 6-up, 6-down in his most recent minor league rehab appearance, but that success didn't quite carry over to the big leagues. He got two quick outs, but then gave up a solo home run to Nieuwenhuis to make it 4-2 Milwaukee. A single by Maldonado ended Hendriks's day to make way for Mark Rzepczynski out of the bullpen, who gave up a single of his own before recording the final out of the inning.
Rzep and Axford combined to give up a couple of singles in the top of the 9th, but a well-turned double play initiated by Valencia prevented any damage to keep the A's within 2 runs.
Offense: Nothin' doin'
Other than a Coco Crisp bloop double early in the game, the A's did nothing on offense through the first 3 innings. They got something in the 4th, though. Coco hit the first pitch of the inning over the right field wall to put the A's up 1-0. Who doesn't love a Coco dinger? Danny Valencia put together a long, thoughtful at-bat that ended in a laser up the middle for a single - hopefully other teams will never, ever learn what Valencia consistently does to high fastballs. Unfortunately nothing more for the A's in the 4th.
Muncy almost had his own "ball that just carries and carries until it's gone" moment in the bottom of the 5th, but it died just before the out of town scoreboard because it's 2016.
Coco walked in the 6th, meaning that through the first 2/3 of the game, he had accounted for 3 of our 4 baserunners. Have a day, Coco.
The A's came back in the 7th. Alonso singled and advanced to 2nd on a Semien groundout. Muncy continued his streak of great at-bats, singling to right field to bring Alonso home and make the score 2-3. Arismendy Alcantara came in to make his Oakland debut as a pinch runner for Muncy while Vogt came in to pinch hit for Phegley. It didn't take long for Alcantara to make his move, as he stole 2nd with Vogt batting. Unfortunately Vogt struck out and Alcantara was stranded in scoring position.
The A's started the 8th with the makings of a bizarre rally, as Billy Burns was hit by a pitch by Brewers closer Will Smith. Unfortunately, the HBP was followed by an ugly Coco Crisp strikeout, a Jed Lowrie laser right into the glove of Aaron Hill at third base, and a blast by Danny Valencia that only got as far as Braun's glove on the warning track. The A's would not score.
The A's got a baserunner in the 9th and pinch hitter Billy Butler hit a blast all the way out to the warning track, but it just wasn't quite enough and the A's fell 4-2.
The A's play our nemeses, the Angels, in Anaheim tomorrow at 7:05. Maybe it's our turn to sweep them at home this time.