Phillies-Athletics observations: Offense quieted by Daniel Mengden in 2-hit shutout

Phillies-Athletics observations: Offense quieted by Daniel Mengden in 2-hit shutout


The Phillies were done in Friday night by an unorthodox pitcher and the Oakland Athletics’ version of Rhys Hoskins. 

Matt Olson hit his 15th homer in 30 games, a 483-foot, two-run blast off Mark Leiter Jr. in the first inning, and Daniel Mengden pitched a two-hitter to lead the A’s to a 4-0 victory at Citizens Bank Park that snapped the Phils’ three-game winning streak. 

While Hoskins was befuddled by Mengden and his funky delivery in an 0-for-3 night with two strikeouts (see story), Olson continued his torrid pace. The rookie sent Leiter’s 90-mph fastball more than halfway up the second deck in right field. It was his 19th homer in 51 games. 

Matt Joyce hit a two-run homer in the second off Leiter (3-6), who then settled down and matched a career high with nine strikeouts in six innings. 

Mengden, who sports an old-school handlebar mustache and even older-looking double-clutch windup, allowed two singles to J.P. Crawford and no walks in his first career complete game. 

• Hoskins, who entered with a major-league record 18 homers in his first 34 games, struggled to time Mengden’s strange delivery. The rookie chased a pitch in the dirt for strike three in the second and fanned looking on three pitches in the fourth. He grounded out sharply to second in the seventh to snap his homer streak at three games. 

• Leiter’s nine strikeouts matched his performance Aug. 5 against Colorado. He allowed four earned runs and walked one in a 103-pitch outing. 

• Mengden (1-1) had never faced any active Phillies player, and it showed. While he has had limited success and was just called up Sept. 5, his style kept the Phillies off-balance. The righty struck out seven and sat down the final 11 batters. 

• Ricardo Pinto worked out of a jam in a scoreless seventh and Kevin Siegrest struck out two in a perfect eighth. Zac Curtis struck out two and walked one in a hitless eighth in his Phillies' debut. 

• Mengden retired the first seven Phillies' hitters until Crawford singled to left. Crawford singled to right in the sixth. Aaron Altherr’s flyout to deep left was the closest the Phillies came to scoring in their first shutout since Aug. 16 at San Diego. 

• Crawford made his second start at shortstop and couldn’t make a backhand play of Mengden’s grounder in the second. Instead of the third out, the ball bounced off Crawford’s glove for Mengden’s first major-league hit. Right after a fan yelled “Freddy Galvis makes that play,” Joyce hit a two-run shot to right to make it 4-0. 

• Andrew Knapp made his first start at catcher since Aug. 3 following a broken hand and had no issues behind the plate. 

• It was the Athletics’ first game here since 2011. The Philadelphia A’s left town after the 1954 season, moving to Kansas City before ending up in Oakland. Playing interleague games this late in the season felt odd on both sides. 

“We obviously have some history here as far as our organization goes and that’s kind of cool, but our interleague [schedule] was kind of broken up,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s two teams that really don’t know a whole lot about each other.”

And the Phillies never did figure out Mengden. 

• The Phillies must go 6-9 the rest of the way to avoid 100 losses. 

• Phillies RHP Ben Lively (3-6, 3.86 ERA) faces RHP Kendall Graveman (5-4, 4.48) on Saturday night.

Morphine found in Roy Halladay's system before fatal plane crash

Morphine found in Roy Halladay's system before fatal plane crash

Roy Halladay had morphine in his system when the plane he was piloting crashed and he tragically died in November, according to Halladay's autopsy report, released Friday.

Zolpidem, the generic name for Ambien, and amphetamines were also found in Halladay's system.

As TMZ points out via the Food and Drug Administration, the amount of Zolpidem found in Halladay's system (72 ng/ml) is more than enough to impair a driver and increase the risk of an accident.

Halladay had a blood alcohol content of 0.01, according to the autopsy report. 

The official cause of Halladay's death was blunt force trauma, with drowning a contributing factor.

The crash took place on Nov. 7 in the Gulf of Mexico, with more details emerging in a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board two weeks later.

Nick Williams talks up Phillies to a free-agent Cy Young winner

AP Images/USA Today Images

Nick Williams talks up Phillies to a free-agent Cy Young winner

It's not clear whether the Phillies will add a starting pitcher before opening day, but surely they would like to.

General manager Matt Klentak “is busting his ass every single day looking for every possible opportunity to upgrade our team from every perspective,” manager Gabe Kapler said on Tuesday. “That includes looking at every option possible for the rotation.”

Klentak has kept a close eye on the trade market, but has found the prices (i.e., the young talent that must be surrendered) for top, controllable starters to be prohibitive.

He has kept a close eye on the free-agent market, but the length of contracts that top pitchers are looking for has given him pause.

For months, the Phillies have distanced themselves from speculation that has connected them to elite level free-agent pitchers Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta.

But with spring training less than a month away and both pitchers still unsigned, the Phillies would at least have to consider both pitchers if their asking prices experience a January thaw.

Six or seven years? No way.

Three years? Hmmm. Let's talk.

The Phillies are hosting a number of their young players this week. Rhys Hoskins, Jerad Eickhoff, Mark Leiter and Nick Williams were all in town on Tuesday.

Williams has set his sights on making the National League All-Star team in 2018.

“That's what I'm shooting for,” he said at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday. “I think I had a pretty good year last year. I'm shooting for more now. I don't think being an All-Star is shooting too high.”

Williams, 24, hit .288 with 12 homers, 55 RBIs and an .811 OPS in 83 games, mostly in right field, with the big club as a rookie last season.

To give himself the best chance of surpassing those numbers — and achieving his goal of making the All-Star team — Williams has spent the offseason in Austin, Texas, working with personal trainer Jeremy Hills, a former University of Texas football player.

Williams is working hard on agility, which will help him in the outfield and on the base paths.

And guess who one of his daily workout partners is?

Free-agent pitcher Jake Arrieta.

Back in Austin, between reps and protein shakes, Williams has occasionally talked up Philadelphia as a potential landing spot to Arrieta, the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner who will turn 32 in March.

“He loves it here,” Williams said of Arrieta, who, as a free agent and a Scott Boras client, is astute enough not to rule out any team, particularly one as deep-pocketed as the Phillies. “He has told me he likes working with young guys. I'm like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I'm not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I'm not really in his position.”

Williams smiled.

“I hope to be one day,” he said.

Williams marveled at Arrieta's work ethic in the gym.

And he expressed gratitude for the kindness and generosity Arrieta has showed him.

“He's bought a lot of my protein shakes,” Williams said.

Time will tell if the Phillies add a starting pitcher to the group that already consists of Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and other youngsters. The hunch is they will, though it's unclear what the magnitude of that talent will be. Klentak's search for an arm likely won't stop with the addition of one pitcher and it will likely continue through July. And beyond. The quest to build a championship-caliber staff never stops.

“The pursuit is very real,” Kapler said of Klentak's search for pitching. “I have a lot of trust that we'll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we're better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”