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Mengden’s latest gem helps A’s avoid sweep, beat Rays 7-3

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On a breezy, 64-degree Thursday afternoon at the Coliseum on the final day of May, Daniel Mengden‘s eight strong innings, and three home runs by the offense, propelled the Athletics to a 7-3 victory over the Rays.

After mustering just one hit Wednesday night and three runs in the previous three game, the A’s (29-28) got the offense going for the first time in the four-game set.

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

Back in the lineup after 10 days on the disabled list, designated hitter Khris Davis led off the bottom of the second with a ringing double off the right field wall. Following a walk to shortstop Chad Pinder, right fielder Stephen Piscotty delivered a much-needed two-out double to score both Davis and Pinder. Davis spoke on his return from injury:

“I think about it [the groin] … standing in the box and rotating because that’s how I hurt it. Running, I don’t feel any hesitation. Swinging, I do worry about it a little bit, so that’s where I feel it most.”

Oakland was far from done there, though. The offense, finally awoken from its slumber, scored again in the inning as center fielder Mark Canha singled up the middle to score Piscotty. This gave the A’s an early 3-0 lead. Ryne Stanek (L, 1-1, 4.66 ERA) was starting for the Rays (28-27) on their “bullpen day,” and exited after 1-1/3, taking the loss and all three second-inning runs.

Mengden (W, 6-4, 2.91 ERA) had the Tampa Bay’s number all afternoon. He was locked in for the first five innings, surrendering just two hits. He got into a bit of trouble in the top of the sixth, after allowing a single and a walk with one out. A double play immediately followed, though, promptly ending the Rays threat. Mengden felt quite confident after the game:

“I feel really good right now, with [catchers] Bruce [Maxwell] and [Jonathan] Lucroy, we’ve really been working on just establishing all four pitches, mixing them up and down … and the defense has played incredible behind me the last couple starts.”

Mengden was simply lights out with his command again. His eight plus strong innings helped him win his fourth start in a row, extending a career-high and A’s season-high. Manager Bob Melvin was quite pleased with his starter:

“This has been Daniel’s month. He’s been absolutely terrific … we saw it at the end of last year when he really gained the confidence and threw a couple of complete games.”

After the three-run second, the A’s were scoreless until the bottom of the seventh when first baseman Matt Olson skied one to right field on a 1-1 count with one out for his ninth home run of the season — a 475-foot blast. Two batters later, another Matt, third baseman Matt Chapman, joined the party. Chapman hammered a 2-0 pitch over the out-of-town scoreboard in left field to give the A’s a 5-0 lead with his ninth homer.

In case a five-run lead was not enough, Oakland’s third Matt, left fielder Matt Joyce, decided he needed to join the other two with a home run (7) of his own in the bottom of the eighth. His two-run shot to right field led the A’s to a 7-0 cushion heading into the top of the ninth.

Mengden’s success finally came to an end in the top of the ninth, as he allowed the first three batters of the inning to reach base. His afternoon ended after a two-run double with no outs from Tampa Bay catcher Wilson Ramos cut the Oakland lead to 7-2. The final runner Mengden was responsible for, Ramos, scored on a two-out double from Rays’ third baseman Christian Arroyo off reliever Josh Lucas cutting the Oakland lead to 7-3.

Lucas ended up needing to be bailed out bu closer Blake Treinen (S, 13, 0.99 ERA).The game ended with this score after the next batter, right fielder Johnny Field, popped out to Pinder on a difficult bobbled catch. Pinder commented on the catch:

“He just kind of put it in no man’s land. I should’ve made the catch the first time with my glove, and then it just ricocheted off and I saw it, and I was like ‘try to grab it. Hang on to it.’”

ON DECK

The A’s will travel to Kansas City Friday to take on the Royals at 5:15 p.m.. The expected pitching matchup will pit righty Frankie Montas (1-0, 1.50 ERA) against Royals right-hander Ian Kennedy (1-5, 5.15 ERA).

NOTES

Khris Davis was reinstated from the 10-day DL Thursday and returned to the starting lineup after recovering from a strained groin. Right-handed pitcher Carlos Ramirez was optioned to Triple-A Nashville to make room on the roster. … The A’s snapped their longest losing streak of the season at three games. … Oakland has never been swept in a series of any length versus the Rays in Oakland. … Athletics pitcher Daniel Mengden’s scoreless streak ended at 25.0 innings, a career-best. … With his 10th, Blake Treinen matched Dennis Eckersley (1992) with the most saves in the month of May in Athletics franchise history.

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