If there was an unsung hero in the A’s bringing a streak of eight losses in nine games to a close Sunday, his name would be Jerry Blevins.
All he did was get three outs. What’s the big deal you say?
Well, he got the win, so that counts for something.
But he created some attitude in both in the bullpen and with the offense, and that counts for more.
The A’s had scored six times in the first 34 innings of the series against the Orioles. Baltimore’s offense had bounced back with runs in five of the six subsequent innings. So while the A’s had scored 11 runs in those six innings, they’d given up nine runs immediately thereafter, meaning the offense wasn’t largely going to waste.
When the A’s scored twice in the bottom of the ninth on Yoenis Cespedes two-run homer to tie the game, it would have been a backbreaker if Blevins had merely become the next guy to fail to shut the door.
Instead he got three outs, including Chris Davis, who had doubled and homered and driven in three runs to take over the American League RBI lead with 28.
“We’ve relied on him heavily so far this year,’’ manager Bob Melvin said. “And if we hadn’t won the game in the bottom of the 10th, I was thinking about sending him out there (for the 11th).
And that would have been good with Blevins. But for the moment, he wanted to focus on the shutdown inning.
“I think that inning meant a lot to us,’’ he said. “There’s no problem with the bullpen. The bullpen is going to be fine. It was more for the offense. It’s nice for them to know if they score, we’re going to shut them down.’’
–Josh Donaldson said all along that he was seeing the ball well, even when his batting average was sub-arctic.
Now that the third baseman has asserted himself and pushed his average to .319, he says nothing’s changed.
“I’m still seeing the ball good,’’ Donaldson said. “I’m able to put good hard swing on the ball.’’
And lots of them. In his last seven games, he’s 12-for-22 with seven doubles and 10 RBIs. During that stretch he’s brought his average up from .246.
On Sunday he came up with the bases loaded in the sixth inning and the A’s down by three and crushed a two-run double to left. After that, the Orioles wouldn’t touch him, walking him in his next two trips to the plate.
–Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was suitably impressed by the ninth-inning homer hit by A’s left fielder Yoenis Cespedes that tied the game and forced extra inning.
“He took the wind out of our sails,’’ Davis said. “When he hit that I’m like `Are you kidding me?’ ’’
The A’s had much the same reaction to Davis’s homer in the eighth, coming as it did just moments after Seth Smith’s homer had gotten Oakland into a tie for the first time since 0-0.