Mengden mows down Giants for first career win

Double foot tap, double pump with a quirky delivery and Rollie Fingers-esque ‘stache; A’s starter Daniel Mengden‘s old-school pitching style had the Giants grasping at straws Monday night.

It’s been a while since the Giants have looked so hopeless — their 13-1 loss to the Mets in April comes to mind — but the A’s (33-43) brought the soaring Giants (49-29) crashing down to Earth with a 8-3 win to kickstart this four-game home-and-home Bay Bridge series.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.

Mengden (W, 1-3, 2.83 ERA) dominated the Brandon Crawford-less Giants in his first career win. He sent the first 13 batters he faced packing, cruising through a perfect four innings before Angel Pagan broke it up with a single in the fifth. Bruce Bochy had to give the rookie credit:

“He’s got good stuff, unique delivery which creates deception.”

Brandon Belt‘s patience at the plate has pushed him into a breakout offensive year, but he couldn’t sit on much against Mengden, he said:

“He kinda kicked our butt, to be honest with you.”

It looked like the Giants were thrown by Mengden’s unique delivery — Bochy came out to discuss the motion with home plate umpire Will Little at one point — but his stuff, coupled with the quirks had the Giants making soft contact throughout the meat of the game.

Chris Stratton — yes, the reliever — drove in the Giants’ first run of the game against Mengden. It was that kind of night.

That run came on the heels of San Francisco’s only substantive rally. Bench guys Ramiro Peña and Conor Gillaspie came through with consecutive singles to lead off the eighth, and Jarrett Parker walked to load the bases with no outs.

Stratton knocked a double play ball to give his team a little something to live on. Mengden left the game after issuing a walk to Joe Panik, who scored the Giants’ second run on a Fernando Rodriguez wild pitch; he allowed just four hits, three walks and whiffed five through 7-2/3 innings.

Before the eighth, only Denard Span could manage a hit off the 23-year-old righty.

Those runs, though, were earned in garbage time. The A’s had already mounted too steep a hill to climb.

Jeff Samardzija‘s (L, 8-5, 3.91 ERA) June has simply been inconsistent; he gave up six runs for the third time in five starts Monday, but dealt a complete game in Tampa Bay just 10 days ago. The problem, said Samardzija:

I just need to get my slider back in the zone where I need it.”

That two-strike slider dug Samardzija deep into a second-inning meltdown; Marcus Semien slugged it over the left field wall for a three-run bomb, putting the A’s up 4-0.

Correction

The bomb was sandwiched between two RBI singles from Khris Davis and Jed Lowrie. The A’s had a 5-0 lead and Mengden cruising way before the seventh inning stretch.

Samardzija said he’s where he needs to be mechanically, evidenced by the three perfect innings he churned out after. He’s forcing his stuff, though, he said of the homer:

“It’s just a mental mistake for sure when you go 0-2 there and leave one over the plate.”

Samardzija made a few more mistakes in the sixth inning, allowing his sixth run before he got the boot. Monday’s bumpy start was indicative of an inconsistent June in which he holds a 6.23 ERA despite two decent starts. Contrast that with a 2.84 ERA through April and May. So we know Samardzija’s got the goods, said Bochy:

“It’s going to take him being consistent.”


Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.