Daniel Mengden departed Tuesday’s game up 3-2 in the seventh with a chance to collect his first win in Oakland.
After holding Seattle to two runs, scored on a homer from former Athletic Yonder Alonso, the starter handed the ball to his bullpen with two on and no outs. But another former “A,” Danny Valencia, delivered a crushing three-run bomb and Mengden’s eighth loss in 11 career home starts.
Manager Bob Melvin said that while there are positive to take away, falling the way his team did makes this loss hurt a bit more:
“It’s a frustrating loss for us today. … There have been times this year, and certainly a lot of games, that would suggest there’s some silver linings going forward but a game like that kinda stings, we had a chance to win and we didn’t.”
Mengden (L, 2-2, 3.75 ERA) took the mound riding a two-start winning streak having not allowed a single run — earned or otherwise — in those 16 innings. But both wins came away from the Oakland Coliseum, where he had surrendered 36 earned runs in 50 innings (6.48 ERA) and fallen in each of his seven decisions spanning 10 starts over the past two seasons.
Road Mengden showed up early for this home divisional contest, however.
The righty allowed the third Seattle hit of the evening in the fourth, a one-out single by Nelson Cruz. Unlike the previous two innings, though, he couldn’t coax the double play, instead leaving an 0-2 fastball over the plate to his former teammate. And Alonso launched it out to right for a go-ahead two-run jack (27).
The hurler said he was trying to go above the zone with the zone with the 92-mph heater:
“Can’t make that mistake, I had the lead there, two outs, 0-2 count. I’ve got to make a better pitch there.”
Mengden settled in, retiring the next eight before having Alonso poke a leadoff single to center in the seventh. He was yanked after walking Mike Zunino on five pitches.
Khris Davis said Mengden gave the club a “productive” outing, giving it a chance to win. Said Melvin:
“He threw good again. … Pitched pretty similar to the way he did the last two times out, he’s really come on strong here.”
Mariner starter James Paxton (ND, 12-5, 3.12 ERA) had already been removed, pulled after serving up a two-run homer (42) to Davis in the sixth, the lefty’s second home allowed on the game along with a solo shot (9) by Marcus Semien — the shortstop’s first career homer leading off a game.
Ryan Dull was unable to do what Emilio Pagan (W, 2-3, 3.33 ERA) had done a half-inning prior — shut down the opposition. The normally reliable right-handed reliever committed the same pitching sin as his starter, leaving an 0-2 fastball up and over the plate. Valencia, like his longtime buddy, delivered the big blow, sending a three-run game-winning bomb out to center.
The skipper said the two 0-2 mistakes set the tone for the night:
“You’ve got to make better pitches at 0-2, especially the 0-2 to Danny … either get it out a little farther or do something different.”
Ben Gamel pounded out a game-high three hits, including an RBI single in the seventh providing Seattle some insurance. Jed Lowrie and Ryon Healy had two hits apiece to pace Oakland, which scattered nine hits to the Mariners’ 10.
The A’s continue to live and die by the long ball, once again relying on it for the entirety of their offense. Melvin said that needs to change:
“Our team’s success this year has revolved around the home run. We need to find other way to do it.”
It has but five more chances to right the ship before heading into another long winter.
Oakland hosts its final major league game of 2017 Wednesday. Kendall Graveman (6-4, 4.17 ERA) will get the ball for the A’s in their final home game of the campaign, opposed by Erasmo Ramirez (5-6, 4.35 ERA) in the afternoon tilt.
Manager Bob Melvin said before the game that Jharel Cotton (elbow) will not make his final start of the season, which had been scheduled for Friday. Cotton (9-10, 5.58 ERA) was removed after throwing just 77 pitches in his last start, a win on Sunday, with elbow tightness — this on the heels of being scratched from his previous start due to groin tightness. Melvin said that an MRI of Cotton’s elbow revealed no structural damage, but given his high inning total (150-1/3) the team will take extreme caution with the rookie. … Matt Olson (hamstring) and Boog Powell (knee) were each shut down for the remainder of the season, as well. As of Tuesday, Olson is having difficulty moving with a grade 2 hamstring strain while Powell’s nagging knee pain has continues to prevent him from exerting himself. … With Cotton scratched, Melvin has lined up his rotation for the final four games of the season — at the Texas Rangers. Sean Manaea will pitch Thursday, Raul Alcantara on Friday, Daniel Gossett on Saturday and Daniel Mengden on Sunday, the 2017 season’s final day. … The A’s have now hit 128 home runs in Oakland this season, breaking the previous single-season record of 126 set in 2000.