Right-hander allowed two runs over 5 2/3 innings in loss
By Andy Call
Special to MLB.com |
CINCINNATI -- Although he did not make his Major League debut until Saturday, Daniel Mengden admitted to a degree of familiarity with some of the Reds' best hitters -- Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce.
"Yeah, I played with those guys in video games," Mengden said.
The A's 23-year-old right-hander and No. 14 prospect needed more than quick thumbs to work through 5 2/3 strong innings, keeping his team in the game throughout its 2-1 Interleague loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park.
"This was my dream since I was 6 years old," Mengden said. "It became surreal. It was everything I dreamed about."
Mengden may soon become notable to A's fans for much more than an unorthdox delivery and a handlebar mustache he has sported since his sophomore year at Texas A&M. Cincinnati's only runs of the game came on Bruce's two-run home run in the third inning, and Mengden demonstrated considerable composure while working out of trouble on several occasions.
That composure may not have been expected from those watching a young man who had not pitched a game above Class A prior to this season.
"You never got the feeling he was anything other than ready for today," catcher Stephen Vogt said.
"He looked like he belonged from the beginning of the game," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.
Mengden did give up six hits and issued four walks while striking out five, throwing 69 of 104 pitches for strikes. He stranded runners in scoring position in the first, second, fourth and fifth innings.
Some Reds hitters may have been mesmerized by Mengden's unique delivery, which he says "morphed" into its current form from attempting to copy the high leg kick of former All-Star Dontrelle Willis. Vogt said the only pitcher he is familiar with who utilizes a similar style is Reds reliever Ross Ohlendorf, who worked the ninth inning Saturday and recorded the save for the Reds.
"I try to change the timing up a bit," Mengden said.
"It's unique, very old school," Melvin said. "He double-pumps and creates a little deception."
There was no deceiving Bruce, though, whose 439-foot two-run home run to right-center hit the scoreboard on the bounce. That homer provided all the runs Cincinnati would need behind Dan Straily's seven strong innings.
The A's lost their seventh consecutive game despite Mengden's strong debut.
"One pitch shouldn't dictate how your day goes," Melvin said.
Andy Call is a contributor to MLB.com based in Cincinnati. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.