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OAKLAND — There are days where a pitcher’s final line doesn’t tell the whole story. Daniel Mengden had one of those days.
A quick glance at the A’s starter’s numbers in Saturday’s 8-3 loss to the Angels shows a rather ugly sight — six runs on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. But Mengden was the victim of some bad A’s defense at the Coliseum.
Leading off the game, Stephen Piscotty tried to dive for a low line drive by Zack Cozart. Piscotty was unable to make the catch, allowing the ball to roll past him to the right field wall for a triple instead of a probable single if Piscotty were to let it bounce in front of him. Mike Trout brought Cozart home with a double on the very next at-bat.
Khris Davis later missed on a diving attempt out in left field to lead off the third, setting the table for a few more defensive woes. Bruce Maxwell mishandled a pair of pitches that were ruled as wild pitches, one allowing Rene Rivera to move to third and the other letting Trout reach first base on a strikeout. With one out in the inning, Mengden appeared to induce Justin Upton into a double play ground ball to end the inning without any damage, but the ball bounced off Marcus Semien’s glove at short. He then was late on his throw to first, recording no outs and leading to two more Angels runs.
Though A’s manager Bob Melvin said he had no issue with Piscotty’s aggressiveness on the ball in the first, the rest of the mishaps were uncharacteristic of what he had seen from the much-improved defense in spring training.
“That’s not what we’re expecting. Hopefully we put that one away,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Mengden didn’t deserve the fate that he got. I thought he threw the ball pretty well. That one inning, he probably got six outs and didn’t get out of the inning without a couple of runs.”
The loss keeps Mengden winless at home for his career, as he is now 0-9 in 12 starts at the Coliseum.
While the defensive woes didn’t help, Mengden said they did not affect him on the mound. He felt he threw the ball well mixing his pitches and getting out of a few jams that prevented the score from getting even more lopsided.
“I have to control what I can control, and that’s executing and making pitches,” Mengden said. “Stuff like that is gonna happen. You just have to overcome it.”
For an A’s pitching staff full of question marks, Melvin was pleased with Mengden’s ability to still get deep in the game.
“He could have been out of that one inning with nothing and the pitch count lower,” Melvin said. “I thought he pitched well enough to keep us in the game and potentially win. We just didn’t support him enough.”
Making his first start of the season behind the plate, Maxwell placed the blame on himself for both of Mengden’s wild pitches.
“I was just late. It’s all on me and unacceptable,” Maxwell said. “I put us in tough situations and they capitalized on it to put the game a little further out of reach than it should have been.”
For as much frustration as there was on the defensive side, it was equally frustrating on offense.
The A’s were 3 for 6 with runners in scoring position, but they also left nine runners on base. Loading the bases with two outs in the seventh, Matt Olson represented the tying run down 7-3 at the time, but the slugger struck out to leave the runners stranded.
“We’re one swing away from tying it,” Melvin said. “It was good that we battled back after sitting with a 7-0 deficit. It’s the attribute you want to see. We just dug ourselves in too big of a hole.”
Piscotty picked up his first two RBIs as a member of the A’s, driving home two runs with a single to left field in the sixth. Matt Chapman followed that up with an RBI double to right.