Two games doesn’t make for a big sample size, but the A’s are feeling better about Sean Doolittle all the time.
For the second time in as many games, Doolittle came out of the A’s bullpen against the Yankees and retired every batter he faced. On Tuesday it was three men. On Friday it was four, including striking out Chris Stewart of the Yankees to end the seventh inning both nights.
Doolittle is not far removed from a stretch of five games in which he’d allowed 10 runs to score. But he said he feels no lack of confidence.
“Am I back? I don’t really feel like I left,’’ Doolittle said. “That’s why things were so frustrating during that stretch.
“But I’ve got a lot of confidence from the last couple of games.’’
The strikeout of Stewart on Tuesday came on a fastball. On Wednesday it was a changeup, a pitch that Doolittle is working into his repertoire a little at a time.
“Mixing it up is what we talked about,’’ Doolittle said. “I was definitely with (catcher) John Jaso when he called for the changeup.’’
–Although it wound up having no impact on the outcome of the game, two of the A’s said they were essentially taken to school by Yankees’ right fielder Ichiro Suzuki in the second inning Wednesday.
Brandon Moss was at the plate with Josh Reddick on first base after a single off Phil Hughes to start the inning. Moss was hacking at the first pitch and unloaded one of the highest fly balls in recent Coliseum memory.
Moss and Reddick both said their initial inclination was that the ball was gone, but they thought better of it as they saw Ichiro tracked the ball as if he had it in his sights. The right fielder moved back lazily as if the ball would come right to him standing on the grass near the warning track.
When it did come down, it landed well into the right field seats.
“As high as that one was hit, I thought it was going deeper than he played it,’’ Moss said. “But he sold it. He deked my pretty good.’’
So much so that when Ichiro arrived at first base after a ninth-inning single, Moss told him how well he’d done.
“You don’t ever really want to tell anyone they fooled you like that,’’ Moss said. “But as long as it’s a homer, I can take it.’’
Reddick was so convinced he moved back toward first base as if to tag up and try to advance to second that way.
“He had me convinced,’’ Reddick said.
–Dan Straily is supposed to be with the Mariners filling in for Brett Anderson.
The way Straily is looking lately, however, when Anderson comes back the A’s will have to look for someone else to take out of the starting rotation.
Mind you, it’s not a decision that will come anytime soon. Anderson isn’t expected back until sometime after the All-Star break mid-July.
Straily has gone 3-0 in his last five starts and owns a 2.20 ERA in that span. He’s beaten three of the better teams in the game, too, in the Rangers, the Giants and now the Yankees.
You can see by the way that Melvin holds off going to the bullpen that he’s giving Straily more chances to get the job done.
“Straily has been really good,’’ Melvin said. “We’re giving him more and more rope and letting him face tougher at-bats.’’
And the more the A’s do that, the better Straily seems to react.