In for John Hickey …
Whew, like my iPhone, still trying to get my internal main battery charged up after covering the closest you can come to a perfect game without actually throwing one Friday night in San Francisco. Fortunately, I also covered Dallas Braden’s perfect game in May of 2010, so personally, I can live with the result. In fact, I may actually have seen something rarer. There have been 23 perfect games in major league history and I’ve seen one of those. But there have only been 12 perfect games broken up with two outs in the ninth and now I’ve seen one of those. And I was also on hand Nolan Ryan’s seventh. So I think my bucket list is complete on no-nos, perfectos and near-perfectos.
It’s interesting that A’s manager Bob Melvin had some insight into Yusmeiro Petit. He managed him in Arizona for a couple of seasons.
“I do remember him pitching some good games in San Francisco,” Melvin recalled. “That’s a good ballpark for him. He can keep the ball in the middle of the field. It’s a big park there. He’s able to keep the ball off the barrel of the bat when he’s good, and he mixes his pitches up. He’s got a little crossfire to him across his body, and there have been times when he’s been really good. Hats off to him, that was a terrific performance yesterday.”
Melvin also spoke to why Petit hasn’t been able to find a stable home in the majors.
“I think it’s because of some consistency issues with him,” he said. “He’ll be good at times and then he won’t be at time. His problem when I was with him is getting the ball up in the zone, and when you don’t throw that hard your fastball is fairly straight. You can give up some homers. But from what I see, he’s pitched pretty well. When he’s down in the zone, he’s much more difficult to deal with.”
–Melvin said Grant Balfour, who threw 37 pitches in a rocky ninth inning Friday, isn’t available today against the Astros and Sunday will depend on how Balfour feels. While Balfour has lost a bit of stuff in recent outings and hasn’t been all that sharp, either, the manager isn’t too worried.
“He may be trying to overthrow his fastball a little bit,” Melvin said. “He had three days off. If you really look at how the inning went down, there’s an infield hit, a potential double play ball, a poke to right. He didn’t walk anybody. So granted his stuff may not have been as crisp as it was earlier in the year, but there are going to be periods of time when struggle a little bit and it’s not just the closer. It could be anybody, but it’s more magnified when it is the closer because he’s the last line of defense.”
Sean Doolittle went through a similar rough patch recently and now seems to be back in form.
“You have to stay confident with those guys and sometimes you have to let them fail,” Melvin said. “But sometimes it’s a little easier to make an adjustment with a setup guy than the closer.”
–Coco Crisp is not in the lineup, but it’s a schedule day-after-night off day.
“This day was on the docket for him,” Melvin said. “We try to be careful with him and keep him healthy. He plays hard, and he plays that style every inning of every game, so we’ve gotten ourselves in trouble at times maybe pushing him a little too far, with the wrist on top of that. So it’s always difficult to do, it’s not like I enjoy giving him a day off at this point in time, but we feel it’s the prudent thing to do. We have a game tomorrow and then another off day after that, then 16 in a row. Again, it’s difficult to do, but sometimes you have to do difficult things.”
Jed Lowrie’s the leadoff man, and here are the full lineups:
OAK: SS Lowrie, CF Young, 3B Donaldson, LF Cespedes, 1B Freiman, 2B Callaspo, DH Norris, RF Choice, C Suzuki. RHP Straily (8-7, 4.38)
HOU: SS Villar, 2B Altuve, RF Crowe, DH Castro, 3B Dominguez, LF Carter, 1B Wallace, C Pagnozzi, CF Barnes. LHP Oberholtzer (4-1, 2.79)