It took one of the best outings from an Oakland Athletics starter all season — along with one of the loudest offensive outbursts, and withstanding a late charge — but Daniel Mengden is the proud owner of a major league win.
After three exceptional performances, Mengden (1-3, 2.81 ERA) entered Monday night’s showdown with the San Francisco Giants carrying an 0-3 record despite an impressive 3.00 ERA.
Seventy-six games into the season A’s pitchers have accrued just two starts in which they have gotten the second out in the eighth inning — prior to the rookie’s start, that is. With his two earned runs allowed, the rookie matched ace Sonny Gray’s June 10 start against the Reds in Cincinnati, outdone only by Rich Hill’s eight scoreless at the Seattle Mariners on May 23.
Mengden who, unlike Gray earlier in the month, was rewarded with a “W” for his 7-2/3 innings of work, told Matt Kawahara of the Sacramento Bee about the post-game victory celebration:
“The usual just first-win, dump stuff all over me and celebrate. It felt good. It was really cold.”
Despite fellow first-year fireballer Sean Manaea (2-4, 6.02 ERA) receiving the lion’s share of fanfare, Mengden has been the one to avoid suffering through major-league growing pains.
From his high-handed old-timey windup, the Houston native has uncorked nothing but lights-out stuff since he first stepped on a big league mound in Cincinnati.
In the first four starts of his young MLB career, the 24 year-old has tossed 25-2/3 innings allowing just eight earned runs. He has allowed just 30 base runners (1.169 WHIP). He has thrown 100 or more pitches, lasting into the sixth inning or later of each start. Yet he was part of a first-win celebration for newest Athletic hurler Dillon Overton (1-0, 4.76 ERA) prior to enjoying one of his own.
Through the tough luck Mengden was gracious saying, after defeat No. 3 on June 22, that the wins will come “eventually”:
“No, it’s not frustrating. I’m just going out there and trying to give our team a chance to win, put up as many zeroes as I can. I think we’ve been in good situations to win, but that’s just how baseball goes.”
His most eye-catching metric has been his massive strikeout totals.
With 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings, the mustached greenhorn lands among the top-25 whiff artists — just shy of former CY Young and MVP Justin Verlander (9.2).
In beating the Bay Area rival Giants, though, Mengden sent a mere five batters back to the dugout, matching his lowest output. The number matters little to him, however.
He said, following his June 22 start:
“Strikeouts come. It’s not my job to strike ’em out. It’s my job to get ’em out.”
The Giants and their manager concurred. San Francisco All-Star hopeful first baseman Brandon Belt — who finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout against Mengden — told SFBay’s Shayna Rubin that the starter “kinda kicked our butt.”