Daniel Mengden discovered on Saturday what other A’s starters already knew:
The margin for error is oh-so-small when they take the mound these days.
With Oakland’s offense still stuck in a trance, the A’s lost their seventh game in a row, 2-1, to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Mengden acquitted himself well in his major league debut, pitching 5 2/3 innings and keeping the damage at a minimum despite four walks. But he piped a fastball to Jay Bruce in the third, and the Reds right fielder mashed it deep into the right field seats for a two-run homer that erased the A’s 1-0 lead.
Those were the only runs off Mengden (0-1), but they would tell the story on this day, as the A’s dropped their ninth consecutive game on the road. This marks their longest road losing streak since they lost 11 in a row from May 21-June 9, 2005.
The A’s jumped out to an early lead in the first, when Coco Crisp drew a leadoff walk from Dan Straily, Stephen Vogt moved him to third with a double and Danny Valencia singled to make it 1-0. But as was the case in Friday’s 2-1 loss, the A’s mustered nada after putting up an early run.
They scraped together just five hits after the first, and four came with two outs. It’s up to the A’s to win Sunday to avoid going winless on this eight-game road trip.
Starting pitching report
Mengden’s only blemish came on an 0-1 pitch to Bruce, who mashed his two-run shot to the very top of the large bank of seats beyond the right field wall. Other than that, Mengden could call his big league debut a success. Sporting a handlebar mustache and a unique windup that includes a double-pump with his hands above his head, Mengden presents an interesting look on the mound. He backed it up with decent results Saturday, scattering six hits with five strikeouts. The four walks drove his pitch count up, prompting manager Bob Melvin to go to his bullpen in the sixth.
Ryan Dull replaced Mengden with runners on second and third in the sixth, and he got Zack Cozart to chase strike three in the dirt to end the threat. Dull is now a perfect 26-for-26 in stranding inherited runners this season.
At the plate
The A’s have scored a total of just eight runs over their past five games. They entered the game with the third-fewest runs in the American League (232). On Saturday, they weren’t helped by some unfortunate luck. Several hitters lined hard-hit balls right at defenders, and the Reds turned in some impressive plays to rob the A’s on other occasions. The biggest play from the home team came in the ninth, when Bruce made a lunging grab on the dead run in the right field corner on Marcus Semien’s drive with the tying run on first.
Oakland moved the tying run to second base with two outs against Reds closer Ross Ohlendorf, but pinch hitter Billy Butler went down swinging to end it.
In the field
This game featured lots of standout plays. Semien made a diving catch on Adam Duvall’s liner to save a run in bottom of the fifth. That came after Reds center fielder Tyler Holt made a diving catch of Billy Burns’ soft fly in the fourth to strand bases loaded.
The announced turnout was 32,034.
This eight-game road trip ends Sunday for the A’s, as Kendall Graveman (2-6, 5.49) matches up against lefty John Lamb (1-3, 5.58). First pitch is 10:10 a.m.