OAKLAND -- The A's have badly needed more from their starting pitchers. More innings, more efficiency. And better results.Right-hander Daniel Mengden gave them just that Monday night, twirling an eight-plus inning gem against the White Sox in an 8-1 series-opening victory at the Coliseum to give the A's back-to-back wins
OAKLAND -- The A's have badly needed more from their starting pitchers. More innings, more efficiency. And better results.
Right-hander Daniel Mengden gave them just that Monday night, twirling an eight-plus inning gem against the White Sox in an 8-1 series-opening victory at the Coliseum to give the A's back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Mengden had his sights set on a second career shutout -- his first coming Sept. 15 in Philadelphia last year -- and sprinted to the mound for the ninth.
"It was cold," Mengden said, smiling.
While right-hander Yusmeiro Petit began throwing in the bullpen, Mengden worked a 2-2 count against his first batter, Jose Abreu. The next pitch, his 106th of the night, was launched over the center-field wall, putting the tiniest of dents into an otherwise superb showing.
"At the end of the eighth, [manager Bob Melvin] asked me if I wanted it, and I said, 'Yeah, I really want that,'" Mengden said. "One bad pitch, I guess, and there it goes."
Petit recorded the final three outs, preserving Mengden's work.
"He was great," A's center fielder Mark Canha said. "He was lights out today. There was some assertion behind everything he was doing. He was just going in there and challenging with that heater, both sides of the plate, and when a guy's doing that, it makes the breaking stuff so much better."
Matt Olson smacked his third home run of the season for a 1-0 lead in the fourth, and Khris Davis chipped in with an RBI double in the fifth against Chicago starter Reynaldo Lopez, who fanned 10 in six innings. Oakland was gifted three more runs in the seventh, which featured three White Sox errors, and tacked on three in the eighth on run-scoring hits from Stephen Piscotty and Jed Lowrie.
Before Monday, only Sean Manaea had been able to get through six innings, having done so three times already. His rotation mates were lagging, though. Mengden had come close, pitching into the sixth inning in two of his previous three starts but unable to complete it. The task proved rather easy for him on this occasion, with Mengden closing out the sixth at just 72 pitches.
The righty held Chicago to six hits, all but the home run recorded as singles. He struck out six, walked one and induced 10 ground-ball outs while picking up his first career victory at the Coliseum. He was 0-10 in 13 previous tries at home.
"Just a good sequence," Mengden said. "We had a good plan going in, we stuck to it, we stayed aggressive and worked all pitches up, down and around.
"We always want to go seven, eight, nine innings every start. We have that mindset every game, and sometimes it happens, sometimes things don't go well, but as a staff we have to grind out whatever we can, whether it's five or seven or eight."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Canha, considered a work in progress in center field, looked like a natural out there Monday night, flashing a pair of highlight-reel plays to aid Mengden. The right-hander had a runner stationed on third with two outs in the third inning, when Abreu sent a line drive toward a diving Canha, who snatched up the ball to save a run.
"The situation of the game kind of dictated that I'd be really aggressive on that ball," Canha said. "I was running as hard as I could, and I told myself, 'I got to get this ball,' because it's a 0-0 ballgame and, at that point, it didn't look like there would be much offense. I was going to dive for that ball and go balls out on that one and do anything I could to catch it."
Canha was at it again in the sixth, racing back to the wall for a leaping grab that kept Matt Davidson off the bases.
"We played good defense today," Melvin said. "Canha's looked a lot more comfortable in center field a second time around. Made two good plays, and when he's swinging the bat well, you got to find a way to put him in the lineup."
PISCOTTY KEEPS IT UP
Piscotty hit just .194 over his first 10 games but has since hit safely in each of his last six games, going 9-for-22 (.409) over that stretch.
"His bat is so much quicker now," Melvin said. "He just loosened his hands up a little bit and he's firing a little quick. Looks a lot different from what we saw earlier, where he was a little bit tight and his bat wasn't getting through the zone quickly, but it certainly is now."
Right-hander Trevor Cahill will be back in the green and gold for his season debut Tuesday, pitching with the A's for the first time since 2011. First pitch against the White Sox, who will counter with right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. PT at the Coliseum. In celebration of their 50th anniversary, the A's are making the game free for all fans.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.