Before Tuesday, the A’s pitching was the talk of the league. After tonight, not so much, as the Colorado Rockies pounded out 13 hits to sprint past Oakland 8-3.
A tough ending for Oakland A’s starter Daniel Mengden (L, 0-1, 6.75 ERA) and a bad beginning for reliever Jordan Weems in his debut allowed the Rockies to score two runs in back-to-back innings. It all started in the third, and only got worse in the seventh.
Lou Trivino didn’t relieve any stress in the eighth but helped the Rockies add on three more runs.
After walking leadoff man David Dahl and Charlie Blackmon in the first inning, Mengden had to face Trevor Story, the Rockies best batter who can also do damage running the bases. Mengden was able to strike out Story and Daniel Murphy to escape the first, but in the third Story shot a single to left. Charlie Blackmon hit a line drive to right-center putting runners on the corners before Nolan Arenado hit a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0.
The A’s followed with a Ramon Laureano line drive single to right-center. Matt Chapman and Matt Olson walked to load the bases and, with the Rockies bullpen warming up, a Mark Canha sacrifice tied it at 1-1.
Rockies DH Raimel Tapia got his first hit of the season against Mengden in the fourth on a grounder up the middle. Mengden’s 76th pitch of the night was a curveball to Sam Hillard who launched it to right-center for a two-run homer and a 3-1 lead. Hillard’s first home run of the season ended Mengden’s night after five innings giving up five hits, one home run, two walks and four strikeouts.
Mengden used a lot of fastballs and had a tough time pitching against seven lefties in the lineup. But he worked well with Austin Allen behind the plate and said he felt fine after throwing 80-plus pitches in his 2020 debut:
“One hanging curve ball… I wish I would take that one back… Overall my arm felt good and it was nice to get out there.”
Weems was the only A’s reliever who had yet to pitch prior to tonight, and when he entered in the fifth inning, the Rockies started hitting single after single. Weems came in down 3-1, and had to face one of the toughest players in the Rockies lineup, Story. Weems will be able to say he got a strikeout during his first ever MLB appearance, but unfortunately for him there was more bad than good.
It was an unimaginable MLB debut for Weems who dreamed of playing in the big leagues since he was a little kid. But without the crowd, noise and his family cheering him on, Weems had to hold back his tears during his first post-game interview as a big leaguer:
“My family is in the East Coast… It’s bittersweet. I told my family I was going to be a big leaguer and they won’t be able to see it for the first time. It’s sad cause it is something you work for, it wouldn’t have been possible without my mom and dad. Kinda getting emotional just talking about it. I know they would have done anything to be here, it just feels good.”
Weems struck out Story to start the inning and Hillard to end the inning, but in between he gave up four straight singles and a sacrifice fly to make it it 5-1 by the time he walked off the mound.
Liam Hendriks collected the sentimental balls for Weeks, his first ever strike and his first ever strikeout ball. To have your first batter you ever face in the big leagues be a guy like Story and to strike him out is a pretty good feeling. Weems on his first batter:
“To start off with a K, thats kinda awesome. When it all happened you don’t really think about it in that moment but now that the games over, its kinda cool I struck out Trevor Story on my first batter in the MLB.”
After the strikeout, Blackmon bunted and Chapman, who is used to covering those balls and definitely had the better angle on it, sprinted to a ball close enough for Weems to grab, but Weems may have been in the way of the throw which let Blackmon reach first.
Weems may not be used to having a platinum glove winner on his side. Some pitchers may have known to let Chapman get that ball, Melvin said:
“With Chapman on the bunt, you will learn, your instincts tell you to go after it and he is a really good athlete, you’ll learn you just get out of the way, he’ll [Chapman] will come there and make that play. That’s just all about being around guys and understanding but I thought he threw the ball pretty well.”
Melvin said Weems had a tough start but boy did he finish well and spoke more on the A’s pitching overall:
“Overall our pitching numbers weren’t great today, we didn’t have to use a lot of the guys we have been using, J.B Wendelken pitched out of a jam which was good to see and Lou had a tough time too. Daniel was some innings not so good, some innings good.”
Arenado hit a ball to deep left center and Robbie Grossman slipped while sprinting to get it on the bounce. Blackmon scored on the play and Arenado landed on second. Ryan McMahon singled to right to load the bases with just one out and Weems seemed visibly frustrated.
Tapia smacked a ball deep to center and Laureano, known for his laser arm, made the throw home. Arenado was almost tagged on the play where he didn’t slide. Rookie catcher Austin Allen gave up on the play, not realizing Arenado missed the plate. Allen was looking around the field for runners and either didn’t see Arenado come back to tag home plate, or didn’t realize he never touched it.
It was 5-1 after the play and he had only thrown 15 pitches. Weems was able to get out of the inning and only needed seven pitches for a perfect sixth inning. The A’s were able to score two more runs but the Rockies scored three more after the sixth.
Errors equal runs
An error by platinum third baseman Arenado on a routine grounder from Canha gave the A’s their second run on the night. Their third run came in the eighth inning, off comeback pitcher David Bard. Olson lead off with a single to left field and Canha reached on an infield single that may or may not have been called an error, but was ruled a hit. Bard tried to grab the ball with his bare hand on the play but dropped it, which allowed Laureano to score to make it 5-3.
Khris Davis struggles
A’s DH Khris Davis has yet to get a hit this season, and in the first inning, with bases loaded he popped up to end the inning.
“If you watch his BP, it’s good, but its gotta transfer to the game so just a little bit of a struggle for him right now. It’s tough, he is going through a tough stretch.”
Davis made hard foul ball contact during his seven-pitch first at bat, the most contact we have seen his bat make all season. In the third with two men on and two outs, he struck out after being up 3-0 in the count. And in the fifth, with two men on after Arenado’s error, this time with one out and two men on, he hit into a double play to end the inning.
Melvin explained some of the guys with longer track records deserve a bit of a break. Melvin couldn’t answer if Davis will be taking a day off and shared that he lets his players know if they won’t be playing the next game before he can tell the media:
“Certain guys need a day off or a couple of days, potentially different look but he has been really good for us over the years, he just had a little tough time the second half go last year and he’s got off to a tough start this year.”
Antonio Senzatela pitched five innings and was relieved by Tyler Kinley who only needed thirteen pitches for a perfect sixth, striking out two of the 7-8-9 spot batters. Daniel Bard, 35, made his first appearance in 13 seasons over the weekend but the A’s were able to score a run off two hits against him.
Trivino pitched a sad eighth inning and after his three-run inning, the game felt over. McMahon walked on a full count to lead off and Tapia singled to left to follow. Wolter hit a line drive to right-field down first base line towards the foul pole corner for an RBI double, his first hit of the night giving the Rockies a 6-2 lead with no outs and top of the order coming up. Dahl hit the ball deep and high to right-center near the 362-foot mark for a double to made it 8-2. Trivino gave up a walk, single and back-to-back doubles.
Frankie Montas gets his second start against Germán Márquez Wednesday afternoon at 12:40 p.m. in the final game of the series.
Weems made his MLB debut. … Jesus Luzardo will either earn a start after their off day or will relieve for Frankie Montas tomorrow, depending on how Montas does and if they need him.
Simone McCarthy is SFBay’s Oakland Athletics beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @SimoneMcCarthy0 on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of A’s baseball.