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Spring Game #6: Enjoy the dingers, ignore the loss

Spring training losses don’t matter, but dingers are always fun anytime.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s dropped their third straight Cactus League game on Wednesday, this time to the Cubs by the score of 7-5. On the bright side, they hit four dingers along the way.

*** Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread! ***

Chicago jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Oakland starter Paul Blackburn gave up four runs in the 1st inning, thanks to steady contact and a couple of walks. Even despite his poor results, though, the play-by-play wasn’t that bad: grounder, walk, grounder, strikeout, walk, grounder, liner, liner. The walks are the worst part of that line for a low-K guy like Blackburn, and one of the liners turned into a legit double, but the damage isn’t quite so bad if a couple of those grounders don’t find their way to the outfield for hits. In the 2nd inning Blackburn went 1-2-3, with no walks and a grounder that got fielded.

The next pitcher for the A’s was Danny Coulombe. The lefty gave up a couple more runs, but again it wasn’t because he got knocked around. A leadoff HBP didn’t help, but after that he only gave up grounders. His luck did balance back out a bit, though, as the rally was cut short thanks to an outfield assist ... by Khris Davis? Or at least Khris hitting his cutoff man properly (7-5-4 putout).

From that point forward, things got much better for the A’s on both sides of the ball. Not quite well enough to steal away a victory, but better. Daniel Mengden threw the next three frames and faced just one batter over the minimum in a scoreless effort. That was a welcome sight after he failed to make it out of the 1st in his debut start of the spring, and Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle has more details plus quotes from Mengden and others. Chris Hatcher and Blake Treinen handled the final two innings, retiring six of their seven total batters and allowing just a solo homer (off Hatcher).

Meanwhile, the offense showed signs of life as well. Khris Davis had already opened the day’s scoring with a homer in the 1st, and Matt Olson added another in the 4th, an opposite-field dong. The lineup went quiet for a while after that, but in the 9th they got back-to-back dingers from 2017 draftee Greg Deichmann and minor league free agent Anthony Garcia. Both players are interesting in their own ways — Deichmann ranks 12th on our Community Prospect List, and former Cardinals prospect Garcia was highlighted as a sleeper pick by Viva El Birdos editor Craig Edwards (in a story at ESPN this week). The all-or-nothing display of mostly solo shots wasn’t enough for the win today, but it’s encouraging nonetheless.

Key lines

A few notable performances in the box score:

  • Blackburn: 2 ip, 4 runs, 2 Ks, 2 BB, 3 hits
  • Mengden: 3 ip, 0 runs, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 hit

Quote of the day, from Blackburn (via Slusser): “You’re only as good as your last inning, so I’m going to go off that.” Well played.

  • Davis: 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, K
  • Olson: 1-for-3, HR, 2 Ks
  • Garcia: 1-for-1, HR
  • Deichmann: 1-for-1, HR

Dingers! Khrush’s came off Kyle Hendricks, a legit starter. Olson was off Justin Grimm, a legit reliever (albeit coming off a poor 2017). The other two were allowed by Luke Farrell, who at least briefly appeared in MLB last year (for two different teams!).

  • Dustin Fowler: Played

He didn’t do much (0-for-3 with 2 Ks), but at least he played! That’s still a big deal!

  • Chad Pinder: Started at 3B

He’s now started at four different positions this spring (2B, SS, 3B, LF). He went 0-for-3 at the plate, but he’s well on the way to being the super-sub we’ve been hoping for.

The A’s are back in action tomorrow against the Rangers, and then they’re off on Friday.