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Game #17: Mengden breaks his curse, finally gets win at home

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Olson smashes his first homer since April 6th!

Chicago White Sox v Oakland Athletics
Daniel Mengden finally gets a W at home.
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

As the A’s took on the Chicago White Sox Monday night at the Oakland Coliseum, Daniel Mengden took on his own personal battle. Over parts of three seasons with the Athletics Mengden was 0-10 when pitching in his home ballpark, which was made even more odd by the fact that the Oakland Coliseum favors pitchers with its expansive outfield and more foul territory than any other ballpark in the major leagues.

Monday night told a different story for Mengden and the A’s. The game began as somewhat of a pitcher’s duel, that is until the fourth inning. Heading into the fourth, White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez had thrown 59 pitches to Mengden’s 49 pitches, and he opened the frame by giving up a solo home run on a first pitch fastball to Matt Olson. It was Olson’s third on the year and first since April 6. He launched the ball 407 ft with an exit velocity of 106.8 MPH. The marine layer that settles in at night in Oakland was no match for Olson as he put the A’s on top 1-0.

In the top of the fifth inning Mengden collected his fourth and fifth strikeouts of what would end up being a six strikeout night for the 25-year-old right-hander. The bottom of the fifth brought more runs for the Athletics on a walk by Matt Joyce, who was advanced to second on a ground out by Jed Lowrie and was plated by an RBI double from Khris Davis.

Mengden needed just seven pitches to retire the White Sox in the top of the sixth. Lopez came into the bottom of the sixth having already thrown 84 pitches and was able to get out of the inning with just 12, striking out Matt Chapman, Mark Canha and Stephen Piscotty. It would be his last 12 pitches however, as he did not return in the seventh having thrown 106 pitches and a surprisingly good 10 strikeouts.

Luis Avilan replaced Lopez in the seventh inning, which actually was the most interesting inning of all. Avilan walked Jonathan Lucroy to opening the inning. Matt Joyce laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt but ended up finding himself on base after an error by first White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu. A single by Marcus Semien loaded the bases and Jed Lowrie reached base on the inning’s second fielding error, by shortstop Tim Anderson, that plated both Semien and Joyce. Khris Davis grounded into a double play with one out but it was enough to bring home Lowrie and put the A’s ahead 5-0.

With one out in the top of the eighth inning the A’s put another three runs on the board with RBI singles by Piscotty and Lowrie. Mengden was still pitching a gem of a shutout going into the bottom of the ninth with his team up 8-0 and having thrown 100 pitches. On the sixth pitch of the inning Jose Abreu took Mengden deep to center — ending his shutout and also his night. Yusmeiro Petit closed out the game facing three batter and striking out two.

And Daniel Mengden who walked off the field to a standing ovation in the ninth, after allowing only one run and striking out six, got his first win at home. He’d already lost 10 games at the Coliseum, maybe now things will go a little smoother for Mengden. Perhaps, maybe now, the A’s will have three starters who can make it through five innings without allowing a bunch of runs (referring to Manaea and Triggs - then Mengden). Was this the confidence boost that Mengden may have needed to perform consistently?

It is likely my optimistic outlook that hopes that Mengden can help carry the A’s throughout this season — and, if he earns it, be a part of what could end up being a very exciting starting rotation within the next couple of years? Still, finally getting a win in Oakland has got to feel good for Mengden. Despite having pitched a shutout in Philadelphia last season, Mengden may have needed to break his own curse and win at home. Whether or not my optimistic outlook comes true, this win was necessary both for the club and for Mengden.

The White Sox may not be the toughest foe they face this year but in the not too distant future it could be the two clubs battling for a chance to win it all. Both have a lot of young talent in the big leagues and on the way. We can never be able to predict the future but it appears to be bright for both ballclubs. And tonight the A’s take game one of the series by the score of 8-1.

P.S. Shout out to Mark Canha, saving a run with some defense in CF!