By Charlie O. Mallonee
OAKLAND–The Pittsburgh Pirates completed a three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics on Sunday with a 6-3 victory. The A’s finished their five-game homestand with a record of 1-4. Their record at home dropped to 17-26 for the year.
The A’s took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning of the game. Daniel Mengden was pitching well and it appeared that A’s might be on their way to breaking the losing streak. The Pirates came back and tied the game in the top of the fifth inning.
The Athletics scored a run and regained the lead 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning raising the hopes of the fans that a win was coming on Sunday. The Pirates brought eight men to the plate in the sixth inning and scored two more runs to go back in front of the A’s 4-3.
The Pirates tacked on two insurance runs in the top of the eighth inning when David Freese hit a two-run home run over the right field wall to make the final score 6-3 in favor of Pittsburgh.
Francisco Liriano (5-8) was the winning pitcher. The loss was charged to Daniel Mengden (1-4). Mark Melancon picked up his 24th save of the season.
In the Batter’s Box
Coco Crisp went 2-for-5 for A’s with a RBI. The two hits extended his hitting streak to 10 games. Both of his hits were singles. Crisp’s average is now .247.
Khris Davis had a good afternoon working as the Designated Hitter. Davis went 2-for-4 including a double and a run scored. Davis now has 11 doubles for the year.
Billy Butler got the start at first base today and had some success at the plate. Butler hit a double that was good for a RBI in second inning. In that same inning, Butler scored a run for the A’s.
The A’s scored three runs on 10 hits. They left seven men on base and were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position. The A’s had four extra base hits – all doubles.
DH Gregory Polanco was the man at the plate for the Pirates on Sunday. Polanco went 2-for-4 with two RBI. He leads the Pirates with 47 RBI.
David Freese who came into the game a pinch hitter in the sixth inning and remained in the game hit his eighth home run of the year in the eighth inning. It was a two-run shot into the right field stands.
Adam Frazier had a 2-for-4 game that featured a double and a triple. Frazier had two RBI and scored a run for the Bucs.
The Pirates scored six runs on 11 hits. They left nine men on base and were 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
On the Bump
Daniel Mengden – one of the A’s rookie young guns – started the game on Sunday looking for his second victory of the season. Things started off well for the man with the classic mustache. He did give up a hit in each of the first three innings but he also struck out three batters while allowing no runs. The A’s staked Mengden to a two-run lead and it looked like Oakland might be on their way to breaking their three-game losing streak.
Things fell apart for Mengden in the fifth inning as he gave up two runs on two hits. The Pirates were aided by a walk, a hit batsman and fielder’s choice that turned into a run.
Things continued to go downhill for Mengden in the sixth inning as the Pittsburgh scored two more runs on just two hits including a RBI triple by Adam Frazier. Mengden also issued two more walks in the inning and did not finish the frame. Marc Rzepczynski and Liam Hendriks came in to close out the inning.
Mengden worked 5.1 innings giving up four runs (all earned) on seven hits. He struck out five batters and walked four. Mengden threw 99 pitches (65 strikes).
As if things are not going bad enough for the A’s, relief pitcher Fernando Rodriguez took the mound in the top of the eighth inning and had to exit the game after facing one batter. Manager Bob Melvin said it appears to be a shoulder strain. Rodriguez will have a MRI done on the shoulder. Melvin indicated that a trip to the disabled list is a possibility.
Francisco Liriano had one of his better outings of his recent starts. Liriano sat the side down in order in the first inning before giving up two runs on three hits in the second inning. He then settled down and had another one, two, three-inning in the third. After giving up a run on three hits in the fifth, Liriano’s day was over for the Pirates.
Liriano gave up three runs (all earned) on six hits in 5.0 innings on the mound. He struck out two and walked one batter. Liriano threw a total of 88 pitches (53 strikes).
In the Field
The A’s did not commit an error in the game on Sunday. That extends the A’s errorless streak to nine games.
Coco Crisp had a busy day in center field as he recorded four put outs.
Tyler Ladendorf made a very nice play on ground ball off the bat of Adam Frazier in the eighth inning. Ladendorf had to slide to his right on the outfield grass to field the ball and threw the ball from a seated position to throw Frazier out at first.
The A’s have placed catcher Josh Phegley on the 15-day disabled list for a strained right knee. Oakland now has nine players on the disabled list. The team has used the DL 18 times this season … Catcher Matt McBride has been called up from Triple-A Nashville to take Phegley’s place on the roster. This is McBride’s third call-up to Oakland this season. He has appeared in eight games for the big club and is batting .222.
The A’s challenged a call at first in the top of the fourth inning. Starling Marte hit a ground ball on the right side of the infield that was fielded by A’s first baseman Billy Butler. Butler underhanded the ball to pitcher Daniel Mengden covering the bag. First base umpire Gerry Davis called Marte safe. The fan who had six beers and had only one eye opened sitting in the upper deck jumped out of his seat in disbelief. It took the replay officials in New York only 54-seconds to overturn the Davis call and declare Marte out.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was ejected from the game in bottom of the sixth inning of the game by home plate umpire Sam Holbrook. It appeared the ejection was for arguing ball and strike calls.
The A’s will close out the unofficial first-half of the season with a seven-game road trip. They will travel tonight to Minneapolis where they will play three games with the Twins. Oakland then travels to Houston where they will open a four-game series on Thursday with the Astros before heading home for the All-Star Break.
The probables for the series with the Twins are:
Mon 7/4 RHP Kendall Graveman (3-6, 4.84) vs. RHP Ricky Nolasco (3-6, 5.31) 11:10 PDT
Tue 7/5 LHP Sean Manaea (3-4, 5.40) vs. LHP Tommy Milone (0-2, 6.23) 5:10 PDT
Wed 7/6 RHP Sonny Gray (3-7, 5.42) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (2-7, 4.50) 10:10 PDT