It’s difficult for a pitcher to make thirteen starts without a win. It’s even harder to make all of those starts at home.
A’s starter Daniel Mengden (L, 0-2, 6.55 ERA) did both Thursday, allowing four runs (three earned) in 5-1/3 innings as the A’s lost to the Texas Rangers 6-3 at the Coliseum.
Mengden’s loss, or rather, non-win, tied a major-league record in his thirteenth start at Rickey Henderson Field. He has failed to record a win in any of them. Only one other pitcher, Stan Spencer, has made at least ten career home starts without recording a win. Spencer made all 13 with the Padres in the late 1990s and was out of the majors before he could snag a win at then-Qualcomm Stadium.
But Spencer’s 5.06 home ERA is paltry compared to Mengden’s 6.45 ERA in Oakland. Pitcher wins and losses are mostly meaningless — Mengden acknowledged as much post-game — though it takes a remarkable combination of poor luck and poor pitching to “earn” Mengden’s bizarre new distinction.
Mengden’s second inning quickly overshadowed his tidy nine-pitch first. Seven Rangers came to the plate in the second, resulting in four runs.
An Adrian Beltre double and a Nomar Mazara single put runners on the corners to begin the frame. The next hitter, Rougned Odor, nearly knocked Mengden out of the game, lining a single off the pitcher’s right heel. It appeared to be the same one he had surgically repaired in 2017. For Mengden, it looked worse than it ended up being:
“It’s okay, it feels a little swollen. I’ll probably feel it the day after the flight. … First 10 or 15 seconds I didn’t really know where it hit me at first and just didn’t feel very good at all, couldn’t move my foot. Once I got back, I felt a lot better than I thought initially.”
Mengden limped a few steps then crumpled quickly to the ground, but was able to continue pitching after Manager Bob Melvin and the team’s trainer checked on him.
Two pitches later, Ryan Rua tested Mengden’s foot by laying down a bunt toward third base. Mengden fielded the ball and promptly winged it into the Rangers’ bullpen, allowing two runs to score. After catcher Jonathan Lucroy caught Drew Robinson stealing, Mengden finished the inning and another 3-1/3 innings after that without anymore damage. Melvin felt he actually got better after the injury scare:
“I thought it was great. We’d have been in a little bit of trouble having to cover that much of a game. And I thought his stuff was actually better after that. He was having trouble getting the ball down. And after that he did get the ball down.”
Much like Tuesday, four runs were all the Rangers needed.
The A’s couldn’t claw all the way back against Martin Pérez (W, 1-0, 5.06 ERA) despite 12 hits and four players – Chad Pinder, Jed Lowrie, Matt Chapman, Stephen Piscotty – tallying multiple hits. Runs in the third and sixth innings pulled the A’s within a run of the Rangers. They looked poised to take the lead down 4-3 in the eighth frame with runners at first and third with none out and Khris Davis hitting.
Davis and Matt Olson subsequently struck out and Matt Chapman grounded out to end the inning, effectively sealing the A’s fate. A two-run homer by Shin-Soo Choo in the top of the ninth put the game away for good. Keone Kela earned his second save of the year, punching out two in a scoreless ninth.
The A’s end their first homestand of the season 3-5, splitting four games with the Rangers, a feeling Melvin bluntly categorized as “not great”:
“Would’ve felt better to finish 4-4 even though you want to play better than .500 at home. We played better the last few games, certainly the last three. But we’re going to have to do better than that.”
Chapman’s two hits pushed his batting average over the .400 plateau. It was Chapman’s fourth consecutive game with two hits. … Lucroy added two more caught stealings to total five Rangers thrown out in the final three games of the series. … Adrian Beltre became the all-time hit leader for Latin-born players with a second-inning double. An eighth-inning single nudged Beltre into a tie with one Rickey Henderson for 24th all time. … The A’s drew 10,132 for Thursday’s series finale, totaling 34,613 for the entirety of the four-game series with the Rangers.