Shoemaker, Mengden get nods as Angels face Athletics (Mar 31, 2018)

March 31, 2018

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Two pitchers coming off injury-plagued 2017 seasons will get a fresh start when Los Angeles Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker and Oakland Athletics righty Daniel Mengden duel on the third day of a four-game, season-opening series.

The game will serve as the curtain-raiser for Sunday's highly anticipated Major League Baseball pitching debut of Japanese star Shohei Ohtani.

If Ohtani sees action Saturday, chances are it will be as a hitter. He served as the Angels' designated hitter in the opener against A's right-hander Kendall Graveman, going 1-for-5, before yielding that role to Chris Young against a lefty, Sean Manaea, in Friday's 2-1 win.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia hinted after Friday's game that he plans on using Ohtani in some offensive capacity on Saturday, even though it's the day before he's scheduled to pitch.

"At some point, we'll want to get him into pitching mode," Scioscia explained. "But he wants to help us. I don't think we'll make any declarations (about when he can and cannot play). It'll be on a case-by-case basis. We want to be flexible with our lineup."

Shoemaker and Ohtani will hope to build off the success of Angels lefty Tyler Skaggs, who went 6 1/3 scoreless innings in Friday's win.

He benefitted from Mike Trout's first home run of the season, a first-inning shot against Manaea.

Shoemaker will attempt to extend the Angels' winning streak to two when he makes his 16th career start against Oakland. He's gone 7-2 with a 3.53 ERA against the A's in 16 meetings, one having come in relief.

The 31-year-old had similar outings when he faced the A's twice last April. He worked five innings and gave up two runs in each start, games the Angels won 7-6 and 8-5.

He got one win and one no-decision.

Shoemaker made only 14 starts last season before suffering a strained right forearm that ended his season on June 14.

He appeared to be healthy this spring, but wasn't sharp, sporting a 5.71 ERA to go with a 2-2 record.

Similarly, Mengden spent more time on the disabled list than the active roster last season for the A's. He had DL stints for a broken foot and a stress reaction in his ribs.

He also pitched in good health in the spring, but without much success. He went 0-0 with a 6.12 ERA.

The 25-year-old has faced the Angels just once in his career, suffering the loss in an 8-1 thumping in September of 2016. He was roughed up for eight runs and nine hits in three innings (24.00 ERA).

One day after his offense had paved the way to a 6-5 win, A's manager Bob Melvin found himself applauding his starting pitcher after his club's first loss.

Manaea, like Mengden, had more than his fair share of ups and downs last season, relegating him to a bit of a question mark at season's start.

"Against a team like that, a lineup like that, all righties except one lefty ... really good," he gushed. "We're encouraged with what we saw tonight."

The clubs have combined for six home runs in the first two games, with Khris Davis and Trout, who totaled 43 and 33, respectively, last season, each getting his first.