Meyer exits early as A's hit hard

Meyer exits early as A's hit hard

OAKLAND -- Dan Meyer knows he can pitch in the Major Leagues if he could only control his emotions.

"The effort level was way too much," the left-hander said. "It's like quicksand; the harder I try, the faster I sink."

Meyer allowed six runs, two earned, on four hits in his third start of the season, a 12-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.

Meyer, unbeaten in his last five starts at Triple-A Sacramento, fell to 0-3 in his latest stint in the Major Leagues. He lasted a career-short 1 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out two. His own error led to four unearned runs.

"I've had success the last two years in Sacramento," Meyer said. "Mentally, I have to get through this barrier. I'm definitely trying too hard. I need to relax and pitch the way I did in Sacramento."

Meyer is working with A's pitching coach Curt Young and bullpen coach Ron Romanick on easing back from his intensity level.

"This is a whole new ballgame," Meyer said of the Majors. "Everything is much faster and everybody is better. This is the top of my profession and I need to elevate my game. I worked too hard to get to this point."

Manager Bob Geren said there are no immediate plans to change the starting rotation and would like to see Meyer pitch between 40 and 50 innings before he makes a decision.

The decision will likely come sooner than later with both Sean Gallagher and Justin Duchscherer eligible to come off the disabled list next week. In the meantime, "he's in the rotation," Geren said. Jack Cust (on his bobblehead day) gave A's fans something to cheer when he connected for his 24th home runs of the season, a two-run shot in the fourth that brought the A's within 6-2 at the time.

"Cust got us back into the game for a short time," Geren said. "But they responded. Those two [Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, who combined for nine hits and five RBIs] are probably the best 3-4 hitters in the league."

Cust agreed with his manager.

"They got more hits in one game than I have in the last two weeks," he said. "They're smart hitters and they put the ball in play a lot."

Frank Thomas and Kurt Suzuki each had two hits for the A's, who were unable to win three straight for the first time since June 13-17.

"Frank has been swinging the bat a lot better and has definitely helped us win some games," Geren said. "Meyer gave up those back-to-back doubles, then the error and the walk. He threw over 40 pitches in the inning. He got into trouble and couldn't get out of it." Minnesota collected a season-high 20 hits against Meyer, Kirk Saarloos and Santiago Casilla, who pitched a career-high 2 1/3 innings. It was also a season high in hits for A's opponents.

"Sometimes, you try a little too hard and come up short," Mauer said. "I'm glad, as a whole, we had this breakout game."

Saarloos allowed 12 hits in his five innings of work, matching the Oakland record for a relief pitcher. Paul Lindblad allowed 12 hits in four innings on April 19, 1973. Saarloos gave up a combined six of those hits to Mauer, who matched his career high with five hits and drove in a season best four runs, and Morneau.

"You have to throw strikes and try to stay in there for as long as you can," Saarloos said. "I kind of figured I'd have to stay out there for a while. We used a lot of guys in Anaheim and there weren't a lot of guys down there [in the bullpen] fresh."

The A's have scored six runs or fewer in each of their past 35 games (averaging less than three per game), the longest such streak in Oakland history. They've lost 19 games in August, their most in a month since a 7-20 effort in May of 2005.

Rick Eymer is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.