BY STEVEN LUKE
The Oakland Athletics dropped the finale of their season opening home stand Thursday 6-3 to the Texas Rangers and sit at 3-5 on the season in spite of a gutsy performance by Daniel Mengden.
It all fell off the rails early for the A’s and Mengden. He gave up three straight singles, the third a line drive off of his foot, to lead off the second inning. The ball hit Mengden right on the same foot he had surgically repaired last season, but he shook it off and stayed in the game. The trouble didn’t end there though, as his terrible second inning continued when Ryan Rua laid down a sacrifice bunt, Mengden fielded it, and then promptly threw it past first baseman Matt Olson allowing two runs to score.
After that Mengden settled down and somehow managed to pitch into the fifth without allowing another run, allowing his teammates to make a comeback. He left trailing by only two runs before turning over the game to the bullpen. Chris Hatcher gave up two runs in the ninth, but it didn’t matter because the A’s offense couldn’t muster anything after Matt Joyce’s pinch hit sacrifice fly in the sixth.
But the opening home stand was not all doom and gloom. The bullpen has been much improved putting up zeros even when being put in tough situations like in the finale when Daniel Coulombe, primarily a situational lefty, came on to get five outs without allowing a run. He’s not the lone highlight of the bullpen. Fellow left hander Ryan Bucther has pitched four innings without allowing a run and closer Blake Treinen has a spotless ERA to show for his efforts.
While the offense has not been the powerhouse everyone has been expecting, so far third baseman Matt Chapman has also shined. After a rough spring training he has come out of the gates swinging and currently maintains a career high seven game hit streak that includes four multi-hit games in a row.
The team will look to improve on all of those upsides as they head out on the road to Anaheim to face the Los Angeles Angels for three games before moving across town for a quick two game set in Chavez Ravine against the Dodgers. Daniel Gossett (0-1, 9.00) faces the Angels Parker Bridewell, making his season debut, in Friday’s series opener.