Athletics' Mengden looks to maintain momentum vs. Tigers

DETROIT -- Daniel Mengden just hoped to get back in action this season while recovering from his second major injury this year.

The Oakland Athletics right-hander did much more than that in his most recent outing.

He tossed a complete-game shutout against the Philadelphia Phillies, strengthening his case to become a long-term member of the rotation. Mengden will try to duplicate, or at least come close, to that performance on Wednesday afternoon when he faces the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

"It felt really great," Mengden said on Tuesday, referring to his Friday outing at Philadelphia. "Doing that is a great feat in your career, and hopefully, I'll have many more of those."

Mengden's season got off to a late start after he underwent foot surgery last winter. He missed spring training, then made four appearances for Triple-A Nashville. Mengden pitched for the A's on May 29 and June 3 before he was sidelined by a rib injury. He didn't return to the majors until this month.

"I was just hoping to get back in August and September, get some innings and be able to play," he said.

He showed enough in the minors to receive a September call-up. Mengden then held the Houston Astros to two runs in six innings prior to the two-hit whitewash of the Phillies, in which he struck out seven. He became the 14th pitcher in club history to allow two hits or fewer in a shutout and not walk a batter.

"I'm just trying to show I belong," he said. "I want to be here and have a chance to fight for a spot in spring training. I didn't get the opportunity this year, but I'm hungry and I want to be here."

Mengden (1-1, 4.30 ERA) has never faced the Tigers in his young career. His biggest challenge could come from Detroit's new cleanup hitter, Nicholas Castellanos, who extended his career-best hitting streak to 16 games on Tuesday during Oakland's 9-8 comeback victory.

Castellanos was moved this month from third base to right field to open a spot for one of the organization's top prospects, Jeimer Candelario.

"He enjoys being one of the guys to drive in runs," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Maybe the defensive move took a little bit off his plate. Maybe's he's more comfortable out there."

Castellanos leads the current members of Detroit's roster with 24 homers and 94 RBI. Justin Upton had 28 homers and 94 RBI before he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels last month.

"I think he's proving to be a run-producer but you have to do it over a number of years before you really have a track record," Ausmus said of Castellanos. "He's improving every year, and he certainly doesn't shy away from the big at-bat with runners in scoring position."

Mengden will be opposed by Anibal Sanchez, who is coming off his best outing of the season. Sanchez (3-4, 7.03 ERA) held the Chicago White Sox to one run on six hits while recording a season-high 11 strikeouts in six innings on Friday. He has a 2-2 record and 3.74 ERA in seven career starts against the A's.

Sanchez will try to cool down A's first baseman Matt Olson, who homered for the fifth consecutive game on Tuesday.
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