Mengden (ND, 2-2, 3.86 ERA) didn’t have no-hit stuff — he scattered six hits over his 6-1/3 innings — and he didn’t end up with the win, departing after allowing the tying run to cross. But he did have stuff good enough to keep his potent offense in the game. And, like Manaea, he had Marcus Semien serving as the piston to that motoring attack.
Semien, who scored all three runs in Saturday’s win, scored the first run Sunday. Then, after Boston (17-4) tied things in the seventh, scored the game-winner driving the Athletics (11-11) to a 4-1 win to claim a series from the league-leading Red Sox and locking down a 5-1 home stand.
Batting leadoff against lefties in all three games of the series, Semien went 4-for-11 (.364) with two walks (.462 on-base percentage), a stolen base and a home run. He crossed the plate a total of five times, something manager Bob Melvin joked was “kinda good, right”:
“That’s what you want your lead-off guy to do: come around and touch home plate as many times as you can. He was a serious factor in these last two games.”
Khris Davis, drove him in both times Sunday and said it is great having a guy like Semien at the top of the lineup:
“Anytime these guys ahead of my are on base, that’s really good for me. … Marcus has got speed and he’s aggressive on the bases, that takes something from the pitcher to pay attention to him so we can get mistakes.”
It was a mistake from Boston starter David Price, perhaps the only one he made all game, that Semien coaxed in the eighth while leading away from second. The mistake, an 87-mph first-pitch cutter over the middle-half, mid-thigh that Davis quickly deposited onto the stairway beyond the wall in left field for a three-run homer (6).
The skipper, always in awe of his clean-up man’s raw power, said Davis “hammered” it:
“He’s a three-run homer waiting to happen.”
Stephen Piscotty was on first having singled to become the first Athletic not named Semien to score in nearly two full days.
Davis, who ended an 0-for-7, five-strikeout skid with an opposite-field double in the eighth inning Saturday night, chased Semein in for the first run of the game in the first, poking a grounder through hole on the left side of the infield. It appeared that would be enough as Mengden worked out of a two-on, two-out situation in the top of first before retiring 12 straight.
In the seventh, though, a high pitch-count (84 throws through six) caught up to the 25-year-old righty. Mengden allowed a pair of singles to lead off the inning, and fielder’s choice groundout offered only momentary reprieve as it was followed by a Brock Holt RBI double.
Mengden needed to be rescued, but he had guided the vehicle through rough terrain for long enough. And that was his plan.
After the game, Mengden said that he understood going in that he was going to receive the best bolt from a more-than-capable offense, and that he knew, facing a high likelihood of a pitcher’s duel, he would only need to bide his time before the offensive engine turned over:
“I know we’re going to put up four to six runs a game. As a pitching staff, that’s huge. We can go out there and have a little leeway. … Our offense is clicking on all cylinders right now.”
When Melvin headed to the center of Rickey Henderson Field to retrieve his starter, he made a call he hadn’t been able to for a few days. One he has made more than any other. He called for Yusmeiro Petit, who returned from Venezuela, where he had spent three days caring for his ill mother, on Saturday.
A guy that Mengden said he is always happy to see coming out of the bullpen, Petit escaped the trouble with a popout and strikeout in a matter of just four pitches. Melvin said it was nice having the veteran back in his tool belt:
“That’s what we targeted him to do, and that’s no easy task that he had — second and third, got to try to leave them out there. … That’s an acquired taste and he’s been able to do it.”
Price (L, 2-2, 2.93 ERA) was not afforded the same comfort. Boston manager Alex Cora left his starter in — albeit just 95 pitches into his outing — after allowing his seventh and eighth hits of the game. Price finished his 7-2/3 innings of work striking out six and walking one while surrendering nine hits and all four Oakland runs.
Mengden did not walk anyone and struck out five, but used 102 pitches.
Closer Blake Treinen (W, 1-1, 0.75 ERA) pulled a disappearing act similar to that of Petit, whiffing Boston’s 3-4 hitters, J.D. Martinez and Mitch Moreland to end the eighth and secure the win. He was sent back out for the ninth, and finished despite tweaking his left knee fielding a grounder, for his sixth outing of more than one inning.
The A’s pack up and head to Arlington for the first stop of a three-city, nine-game road trip at the Texas Rangers. Trevor Cahill (1-0, 0.00 ERA) makes his second start of the season on the heels of a seven-inning scoreless debut Tuesday. He will face lefty No. 4 in a row Matt Moore (1-3, 5.59 ERA), who is coming off a solid seven-inning showing of his own, allowing a single unearned run.
Shortstop Marcus Semien committed his fourth error of the season, misplaying a grounder with two outs in the ninth. … Closer Blake Treinen tweaked his left knee coming off the mound to record an out in the ninth. He was checked on by manager Bob Melvin and the training staff but stayed in to finish the game. After the game, Melvin said he would be examined by the medical staff, adding that it did not seem serious. … Not only were Saturday and Sunday’s losses the first back-to-back by the Red Sox this season, the series loss was the first of 2018 as well. … Trevor Cahill, who gets the start Monday in Texas, has not allowed a run in his last 15 innings pitched as an Athletic. The stretch spans three starts and 91 months.