After a wild finish at Angel Stadium, I couldn’t fit everything into the game story from the A’s 6-5 victory over the Angels, so here’s some nuggets from the clubhouse:
–Raise your hand if you expected Jerry Blevins to earn tonight’s save at all, let alone do it in the dramatic fashion that he did? He inherited a mess from Grant Balfour — runners on the corners, 0 outs and a one-run lead — and got a strikeout and double-play grounder to end it. With Ryan Cook unavailable after pitching three of the previous four days, A’s manager Bob Melvin wanted to stay away from him.
It’s just another exciting chapter in this A’s season, but it could point to potential trouble in the final weeks. Are the A’s safe at the closer’s spot? Balfour had converted 10 straight save opportunities entering the night, but he nearly let a three-run lead slip away completely, and he lost his cool over the strike zone.
He took accountability of it afterward.
“He was right, there were a couple that were off,” Balfour said of home plate umpire Paul Schrieber. “I also looked at the video and saw some pitches that I thought were strikes too. These guys do a great job at what they do. It’s frustating sometimes when they see it one way and you see it another. At the end of the day, I gotta make better pitches and get out of that situation. That’s on me and I gotta be better out there.”
Melvin said it just wasn’t Balfour’s night: “He didn’t have his good stuff today and they hit him. You can’t walk guys with a three-run lead. He knows that.”
–Dan Straily’s start sort of got lost in the shuffle with the exciting finish, but he was solid in his fourth big league start: 6 2/3 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs, 8 K’s, 1 BB. True, he gave up two homers but you gotta like the way he dodged major trouble early in the game. Melvin had the bullpen up in the second inning. “I looked over my shoulder and saw the bullpen going. I was not going to be embarrassed again against these guys.”
How do you come away feeling about Straily’s outing? Encouraged? Worried about the homers he’s giving up? Bottom line, he kept it together, in a tough environment, when things could have unraveled early.
–Josh Reddick is struggling big-time at the plate, no way of getting around it. An 0 for 4 night leaves him in a 3 for 39 rut over his past 10 games. But, as he did Sunday in Seattle, he came up big defensively. He made a sliding catch of Albert Pujols’ foul pop with runners on the corners in the second, ending an inning in which Straily had already allowed two runs. That was a big lift for Straily, who steadied himself afterward.
Melvin said before the game he didn’t see a logical alternative to replace Reddick with in the No. 3 spot right now. It’s amazing how the A’s have continued to thrive with their most productive power hitter mired in such a slump. But when it comes to the A’s and their success this season, is it easy to make sense of anything?