It is extremely obvious the Oakland Athletics are in a slump at the moment. If there is anything the A’s could do in order to please their fans, it would be to win Sunday’s matinee to prevent the Pittsburgh Pirates from completing a three-game sweep at the Coliseum. But they cannot always get what they want.
Despite the negativity, today’s pitching matchup gave Oakland Athletics fans something to look forward to. Rookie right-hander Daniel Mengden (and his handle bar mustache) were ready to go. Bucs left-hander Francisco Liriano is a decade older than Mengden, but he was decent for a veteran pitcher.
Mengden rocked, kicked and fired in his first pitch of the game. The keys to success were simple. The A’s had to score first, defend in a consistent manner and take advantage of scoring opportunities. Since it is Mengden’s turn in the pitching rotation, he picked the yellow jerseys because the A’s were at home. That helped the players keep cool in the heat, but as for bringing good luck, not so much.
Billy Butler hit a fastball down the left line that allowed Khris Davis to score. Butler’s RBI double was his 11th of the season. Matt McBride followed with an RBI groundout to score Butler. The A’s were up 2-0, but it was too early to tell if they would shutout the Bucs. They have had early leads throughout the series, but were unable to hold onto them.
It was deja vu all over again as Gregory Polanco‘s two-run single tied the game 2-2 in the top of the fifth. Polanco’s game-tying home run brought home Jordy Mercer and Erik Kratz. There were only two options for the A’s — to sink or swim. Also, Stephen Vogt has been catching rookie pitchers all year except for this specific game.
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The A’s went back-and-forth with the Bucs. In the bottom of the fifth, Coco Crisp‘s RBI single allowed the A’s to retake the lead, 3-2. Josh Reddick had an RBI scoring opportunity. but things didn’t go as planned. Danny Valencia was on the 2-0 count with one out. He drove in a single to right, but it was caught in the outfield. The A’s continued to lead the Bucs 3-2 after six innings.
The bullpens of both teams were competing against each other. The Bucs responded when Tyler Ladendorf could not turn a routine double play because the next batter Adam Frazier hit an RBI triple that drove in Josh Harrison to tie the game 3-3 in the top of the sixth.
They went ahead 4-3 after Kratz hit a soft ground ball that was deflected by Mengden, which allowed Adam Frazier to score. Not a good outing for Mengden, who had 99 pitches in 5 2/3 innings. He was not as sharp as he was in previous starts.
The ball in Freese’s two-run homer to right was outta there. Reddick ran a slow jog, but was unable to complete the catch. This hurt the A’s as the Bucs took a 6-3 lead in the top of the eighth. The A’s defense has missed a lot of opportunities. The Bucs went on to sweep the A’s with a 6-3 win in the series finale at the Coliseum.
Tomorrow, the A’s begin a three-game series with the Minnesota Twins. The Twins are currently the worst team in baseball, but with the way the A’s have been playing lately, I do not see a sweep happening.