It went better for Daniel Mengden than it did for his team Saturday.
The right-hander made his major league debut for the A’s and gave a solid showing, lasting 5 2/3 innings and giving up two runs with six strikeouts. That couldn’t stop the A’s from a 2-1 loss at Cincinnati that ran their losing streak to seven.
If you were catching your first glimpse of Mengden, surely you were intrigued. The handlebar mustache, the double-pump at the top of his windup … there’s a lot to take in at first sight. When he arrived from the Houston Astros in last July’s Scott Kazmir trade, the A’s had no interest in changing all that was unique about the 23-year-old Mengden.
A’s director of player development Keith Lieppman discussed Mengden’s rise through Oakland’s farm system recently.
“He’d come in from Houston last year in the trade, and he had mentioned they were working to change some of his mechanics,” Lieppman said. “He wanted to go back to some of the things he knew about himself. We left it up to him, and he’s run with it.”
In an interview clip posted by the Bay Area News Group following Saturday’s game, Mengden said his delivery on the mound was inspired partly by him being a big fan of former Marlins lefty Dontrelle Willis while growing up, and partly by another pitcher he admired, former Marlins and Red Sox righty Josh Beckett.
Reliever Liam Hendriks (triceps strain) threw a scoreless inning in a rehab outing for Nashville on Friday, and he appears to be inching closer to a return to the A’s bullpen. Hendriks hasn’t appeared in a game for Oakland since May 7.
If you’re curious about hitters opening eyes at the Triple-A level, corner infielder Ryon Healy continues to put together an outstanding offensive season. A third-round draft pick in 2013 out of the University of Oregon, Healy entered Saturday hitting a combined .349 with 11 home runs, 49 RBI and a 1.029 OPS in 58 games split between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Nashville. He’s hitting .368 with 13 extra base hits in 22 games with Nashville. Healy was drafted as a first baseman but has gotten time at third base too since entering the A’s system.
At Midland, third baseman Matt Chapman leads the Texas League with 14 home runs, but he’s hitting just .230. A four-strikeout game Friday pushed Chapman’s strikeout total to a whopping 86 in 58 games. In eight games in June, Chapman has played third base in seven and shortstop in one.
Another of the A’s marquee prospects playing at Midland, shortstop Franklin Barreto, is hitting just .229.