Daniel Mengden was denied once again in his search for major-league win No. 1, despite posting his third quality start in as many appearances.
Unable to figure out Junior Guerra (W, 4-1, 3.67 ERA), who held Oakland to two runs in seven innings, the A’s (29-42) brought a 3-6 home stand to a fitting end, leaving runners on base in each of the last three frames against the maligned Milwaukee bullpen.
The Brewers (32-40), who had lost seven of their last eight, finished their season series with the green and gold with an admirable 3-1 record.
Mengden (L, 0-3, 3.00 ERA) said he is taking his lack of wins in stride:
“It’s not frustrating. I’m just going out there and trying to give our team a chance to win — put up as many zeros as I can. … That’s just how baseball goes … We’ll get it eventually.”
Coco Crisp gave his hurler a 1-0 lead to work with early, launching his sixth home run of the year into the right field barbecue terrace leading off the fourth.
Forced to deal with adversity for the first time as a big leaguer, the 23 year-old Mengden was unable to hold the minuscule advantage.
Allowing three hits, the rookie right-hander needed 26 pitches to strand the bases loaded in the third. He wasn’t so lucky in the fifth.
A one-out double and an error by left fielder Crisp allowed Ramon Flores to carry the game-tying run to third. On a 1-1 pitch, Yadiel Rivera laid down a safety squeeze down the third base line. Mengden reacted well, but after making a clean scoop 20 feet from home, he was unable to make the flip, shuffling the ball into foul territory allowing Flores to flee home tying the game.
“Right as I fielded it, the ball was kinda juggling around in my glove a little bit. When I swung it up, to try to grab it and flip it to Phegley, I bobbled it — going a little too quick.”
Two batters later, second baseman Scooter Gennett sent a fly ball inches over the wall in left field — just to the right of the 362-foot marker.
After the tough fifth, Mengden went back to the mound having already thrown 90 pitches. In his final frame he gave up a bloop single, while striking out the other three batters he faced.
Of his ability to move on past a rough inning, manager Bob Melvin said:
“We’ve seen right away that he’s a tough kid … His presence is as impressive as anything.”
The skipper added:
“He knows that we think he’s good. And he is. He thinks he’s good, too. He might not tell you that, but he knows he’s good.”
The visitors responded to an A’s run in the seventh with a home run from Kirk Nieuwenhuis (3) to maintain separation.
Oakland was powered offensively by Crisp, who hammered a double to left in the first before homering in his second at-bat. Arismendy Alcantara made his A’s debut as a pinch-runner, stealing second before being left there as the potential tying tun before being lifted for pinch-hitter Billy Butler who flew out to the left-field warning track to end the game.
Melvin said that the end of the offensive struggles will be as simple stringing a few hits together and changing the mentality in the dugout:
“Some times the psychology comes into play. When you’re struggling offensively. It happens as a group, and when you swing it well it can be contagious. Just got to keep grinding — try to get in better counts. Try to get some rhythm… We’re just pressing a little bit, trying to do too much as an individual.”
The A’s now take to the road, heading to Anaheim for a four-game series with the Angels (31-41). Getting the ball in Thursday’s game one will be Kendall Graveman (2-6, 4.87 ERA), looking to build on his best start of the season, a seven-inning, one-run effort against the Angels.