A’s back strong Mengden, pound White Sox

The Athletics had to wait until game No. 147 before posting their first complete game of the 2017 season. Daniel Mengden was given the chance to start the ninth Tuesday night but was unable to finish, settling for an 8-1 victory.

Mengden (1-1, 4.50 ERA) recorded Oakland’s lone complete game last year, and cruised through the White Sox (4-9) Monday night, surrendering just six hits and one run to claim his first win at home after entering 0-10 in 13 previous starts at the Oakland Coliseum.

With the win, the A’s (7-10) have won back-to-back games for the first time this season.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the A’s clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum.

One of few braving the sub-50-degree cold and 10- to 15-mph winds without the assistance of long sleeves, when Mengden did emerge from the third-base dugout 100 pitches into his effort in the top of the ninth the Houston native did so sprinting to the mound. He joked:

“Yeah, it was pretty cold.”

Mengden added:

“I really wanted to (finish the game). At the end of the eighth, (manager Bob Melvin) asked me if I wanted it and I said, ‘yeah.'”

Melvin said he told catcher Jonathan Lucroy that the two needed to work quickly in the final frame, before reaching the maximum pitch cap he has already decided upon, but added:

“He deserved to be able to go out there.”

Chicago slugger José Abreu cut off Mengden’s night six throws into the ninth, though, launching a 2-2, 91-mph fastball off the batter’s eye in straight-away center. But two previous attempts to cause damage to the A’s by the former AL Rookie of the Year were turned away.

Mengden had been victimized by shoddy defense in his three previous starts, suffering one unearned run in each — and several more that could have been registered as such. The gloves were there in his support for start No. 4.

Matt Chapman‘s diving snag from third to rob Abreu of a knock with one down in the sixth may not have surprised any of the 7,479 in attendance. But Mark Canha‘s trio of impressive plays from center field did.

Making just his 20th career start in center, Canha left his imprint on the game early, robbing Abreu of an RBI single in the third inning. What appeared off the bat to be a two-out run-scoring single from the White Sox three-hole hitter proved to be nothing more than an opportunity for Canha to show ability to read contact, and make the most difficult play for an outfielder — coming straight.

Canha called the play a display of instincts:

“The situation of the game kinda dictated that I be really aggressive on that ball. I was kinda getting a gauge on it as I was running in. I was just running as hard as I can and I told myself, ‘I’ve got to get this ball.’ …I was going to dive for that ball and kinda go balls-out on that one — do anything I can to catch it.”

Locked in a scoreless tie with two outs and a runner at third is the proper time to attempt such a greedy play. The same can be said of a 2-0 game with two down and no one on, which is the situation Canha found himself in when Chicago cleanup-hitter Nicky Delmonico sent him retreating deep into right-center.

With a high leaping reach, Canha snagged the would-be double as he collided with the green-padded wall.

“That one was just, like, go get it. … I was like, I’m crashing into the wall, sacrificing the body to catch this one. It was kinda the same as the other one, it’s like, we’ve got to have this one.”

Mengden also got help offensively, though little was needed.

Matt Olson offered the opening salvo with a 407-foot blast (3) into the empty bleachers in right-center. But fresh off a stressful 2-1 win in Seattle, and facing the young Reynaldo López off to an outstanding start, Oakland got back on the board the very next frame thanks to Khris Davis, who missed a two-run homer by mere feet but extended his hitting streak to six games with an RBI double.

By the time the Chicago defense imploded, committing four errors and handing the A’s a six-run cushion, López (L, 0-2, 1.42 ERA) was done with his six innings of four-hit, two-run work. He struck out 10 but walked four.

Entering the game having allowed just one earned run in 13 innings of work (0.69 ERA), López was unable to hold pace with Mengden, who credited his stellar performance to his pinpoint control with the fastball. Canha, with one of the best views of the Oakland hurler, concurred:

“He was lights out today. … There was some assertion in everything he was doing. He was just going in and challenging with that heater, both sides of the plate. When a guy is doing that it makes the breaking stuff so much better, I know as a hitter.”

Regarding his getting the winless monkey off his back at home, Mengden said:

“Yeah, I guess you can consider it a monkey. But my job is really not to win games, my job is to keep our team in it as long as possible and give our team a chance to win.”

On Deck

Trevor Cahill makes his Oakland return Tuesday against the White Sox and starter Miguel González (0-2, 8.68 ERA). Cahill, 30, last pitched as a member of the A’s on Sept. 27, 2011 and carries a 1-3 record and 4.21 ERA in 12 career appearances against Chicago.

Notes

Trevor Cahill was present in the clubhouse before Monday’s game though no roster move had been made by the A’s. Oakland will need to clear a roster space before he able to make the start Tuesday. … Prior to the game, Chad Pinder (right knee) was activated from the 10-day disabled list. To clear roster space for him, Franklin Barreto was optioned to Triple-A Nashville, he appeared in one game and never took an at-bat. … Manager Bob Melvin said he has not yet deiced on a role for reliever Ryan Dull (right shoulder), who was activated from the DL Saturday and has yet to appear in a game this season. Dull set a major league record stranding his first 36 inherited runners in 2016.


Kalama Hines is SFBay’s sports director and Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @HineSight_2020 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.