A’s manager Bob Melvin said he isn’t worried about reliever Sean Doolittle’s recent rough patch, in which Doolittle allowed two runs in back-to-back appearances.
Up to that point, Doolittle had allowed only two runs in 23 innings in his first 23 appearances this season.
“It’s just a couple of outings where some guys ended up getting the barrel on it,” Melvin said. “The reason it stands out so much is because of the success that he’s had. You’re just not used to seeing him get hit.”
Melvin said he talks to Doolittle all the time and that he isn’t worried about the past two outings affecting Doolittle long-term. If anything, he added, it’s going to make him stronger.
“It it makes you a little tougher, it re-energizes you to focus, like he always does,” Melvin said. “We still have the same amount of confidence in Sean Doolittle as we ever have.”
– Regular first baseman Brandon Moss remains mired in a nasty slump that has dropped his average to .230.
He is 1 for 21, with nine strikeouts, in his past 10 games and 8 for 64, with 27 strikeouts in the past 23 games.
Melvin said part of left-handed Moss’ recent struggles owe to Moss facing a slew of left-handed pitchers.
Just the same, Melvin said he was encouraged by Moss’ two at-bats Saturday, when Moss worked a walk after falling behind 0-2 and lined out to second after being 0-2, both against a left-hander.
“There’s nobody that’s had a more difficult assignment than he has recently,” Melvin said. “But, once he gets back into a groove, he’s the guy that gets hot, and when he gets hot, a lot of it ends up being home runs. It just hasn’t been there for him recently, but he continues to work. He’ll get hot again.”
– Today’s starting pitcher for the White Sox is about as tough as it comes in terms of a left-hander, Melvin said.
Chris Sale is 5-2, with a 2.53 ERA. He is holding opponents to a .192 batting average. He has allowed five earned runs in his past five starts, four of them games that he received the win.
The key, Melvin said, is finding a way to get to keep the game close until someone delivers a key hit or the White Sox are forced to go to the bullpen.
“You don’t always have to beat the starter,” Melvin said. “We feel like we have a pretty good starter going today. If you don’t get to a guy like him early, you try to get his pitch count up, you try to get him out of the game, stay close and win in the end.
Melvin considers Sale as talented as any left-hander in baseball. To that end, he expects a close game with Sale and Jarrod Parker opposing each other.
“You know runs will probably be at a premium,” Melvin said. “It’s one of those games where you have to grind on him a little bit and try to stay close to him.”