By John Hickey
Monday, July 29th, 2013 at 11:21 pm in 2013 regular season.
There is almost nothing similar to the skill sets possessed by Jerry Blevins and Seth Smith except that both are left-handed.
Smith is the A’s regular designated hitter. Blevins is the A’s No. 2 left-handed reliever in the bullpen.
Of late they’d been sharing something that brought them together: a seemingly endless series of poor performances.
Smith came into Monday’s 9-4 win over Toronto hitless in his previous 29 at-bats. As recently as July 12 he was hitting .270 and was a vital source of offense for a team that was struggling to come up with runs.
Blevins came into the game having allowed nine runs in his last 10 appearances. Before that he had a 1.93 ERA and was used as a defector ace-in-waiting by manager Bob Melvin whenever the situation called for a big out, or be series of outs before the ninth inning was turned over to closer Grant Balfour.
What happened was that after grounding out in the first inning, Smith doubled home a run in the third inning and singled home a run in the fifth, then finished his night at the plate with a walk, getting his average back up to .250 as the A’s moved to 20 games over .500 for the first time this season.
“As bad as it stinks,’’ Smith said, “through it all we’ve been winning. So that’s been good. But it feels good to hit, to contribute.’’
Blevins, asked to pitch the ninth inning, struck out the first two batters he faced and got a grounder back to the mound to close it out.
“It’s like Smitty and I were doing the same thing differently,’’ Blevins said. “We were joking about it.’’
But it’s no joke that both men want to be part of the gathering storm that seems to be building in Oakland. No one wants to be left behind in the race to a hoped-for playoff berth.
“It’s the competitor in you,’’ Blevins said. “It lights a fire. You feel you’ve let the guys down if you don’t do your part. It’s real nice to feel you are a part of this.’’