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Postgame thoughts after A’s lose another gut-wrencher

Talk about a roller coaster few days for the A’s bullpen. On Friday, Sean Doolittle gave up a walk-off homer. On Saturday, they combined for 10 innings of one-run ball before Pedro Figueroa and Pat Neshek gave up a four-run lead in the 13th inning of an eventual loss. Then on Sunday, the relievers bailed out A.J. Griffin and combined for 4 2/3 shutout innings to salt away a victory over the Yankees. And then came Monday’s 5-4 loss to the Texas Rangers. Starter Dan Straily left with a 4-2 lead in the seventh, only to see Jerry Blevins walk Josh Hamilton and Pat Neshek give up a two-run homer to Adrian Beltre. In the ninth, Tyson Ross allowed Beltre’s walk-off single.

It’s the worst time of the year for the A’s to fall short-handed on relief options in the late innings. But that’s happened because of back-to-back starts in which Travis Blackley lasted just two innings (in a game that eventually went 14 innings) and A.J. Griffin lasted just 4 1/3 innings. As a trickle-down effect, seldom-used relievers such as Ross and Figueroa are thrust into crucial situations.

Due to the above conditions, manager Bob Melvin’s hands were tied to an extent on who he called on from the bullpen Monday. Ryan Cook looked dominant in a 1-2-3 eighth inning, but because Cook was pitching for the third straight day, Melvin wasn’t going to use him for more than one inning. Closer Grant Balfour also had pitched the previous two days and was only going to enter if it was a save situation. Sean Doolittle did not get in the game. Melvin didn’t mention him as being unavailable, but the lefty had pitched in two of the previous three games, and the A’s are trying to be careful with him in his first full season of pitching professionally. So maybe Melvin wanted to stay away from him.

But with the decision to call on Ross, who is now 2-11 in the majors this season, you can question whether someone like Jeremy Accardo could have been a better option. We haven’t seen Accardo yet as he just got called up Sunday, and he hadn’t pitched competitively since the Triple-A season had ended. But he is an eight-year big league veteran, and if he wasn’t ready to be called upon in a game like Monday’s, why bring him up at all?

Anyway, it’s easy to second-guess after a game like Monday’s, but that’s what we do when September rolls around, a team is playing for a postseason spot and a lot is riding on every game. The A’s haven’t been in this situation for several years, and we’re seeing how much their fortunes can sway from one day to the next. …

Joe Stiglich

  • John Marra

    There is no second guessing from me. I thought it was a big gamble to bring in Neshek in the 7th. A safe bet was Cook to pitch 1 1/3 innings. I call the move to bring in Ross in the 9th a throwing in of the white towel. Did you think Ross was going to get out of the 9th? I sure as heck did not! Didn’t beloved
    Bob learn anything from Saturday? I do not think so! I believe in managing one game at a time, and Bob was totally outmanaged by Ron Washington. Wash realized his starter was done, and went to the bullpen early and often to keep his team in the game. With a lead, Bob Melvin gambled with the “second string” to save the day, and it failed miserably. Now the Angels are breathing down our necks, and there is no more margin of error for this young and resilient team! I was angry with the pitchers that blew the game Saturday. Tonight I am furious with the Manager who should have known better!

  • Stan

    “A’s fans outaged at Melvin”.says “Whitey” Gleason aka “rise guy”.
    Bobs gave that one up…put it on a T for the Rangers. El Stupido! OY VEY!

  • Gdog

    Got to throw strikes. The walk to Hamilton when ahead 1-2 in the count was a killer. If they hit back-to-backs then so be it. I was having Eckersley vs Mike Davis flashbacks when watching the Hamilton at bat. If Davis or Hamilton don’t walk Gibson or Beltre can’t be a hero.