Blevins finding his game again, just in time for playoffs; A’s like progress Griffin has made

NOTE: this was written Tuesday night with the plan to post it then, but technical issues with the posting software cropped up.

Here it is, 12 hours late.


Jerry Blevins limped into the end of August in one of those everything-goes-wrong slumps that athletes sometimes must endure.
The A’s left-handed reliever pitched in five games, had a 6.75 ERA after giving up five runs on five hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. His overall ERA skied from 3.15 to 3.61.
That was then. The Blevins who pitched Tuesday in Angels Stadium was the pitcher he has most often been the last two seasons with Oakland – concise with his pitches, effective in the strike zone and able to shut down the other side.
        Blevins was only supposed to pitch one inning, the seventh, in the A’s 3-0 loss to the Angels.
“But he didn’t throw many pitches,’’ manager Bob Melvin said, “so I let him go another inning.’’
In all Blevins faced six batters, retired all six and struck out two. It comes as part of a September when opposing hitters are averaging .174 against him. He has pitched in eight games without allowing a run and just four hits.
“I think today showed that I’m available to do whatever job they need,’’ Blevins said. “It could be facing one left-handed hitter or picking up a couple of innings. I want to be available for whatever they need.’’
Blevins said he’s been feeling good for about three weeks now, and the results would certainly underscore that. He’s brought his ERA all the way back down to 3.19 with four games left in the season.
“He had good command tonight,’’ Melvin said. “That’s as good as we’ve seen in a while.’’
What does that mean with the playoffs soon upon the A’s?
“That should be a nice little boost of confidence for him,’’ Melvin said.

–Starter A.J. Griffin has pitched his last regular season game for Oakland in 2013. The next time he’ll be on a mound, it will be in the playoffs.
It’s not yet clear when Griffin will pitch – nor should it be, considering the A’s don’t even know who they will be playing yet – but Melvin is happy with the progress Griffin has made from the half-year debut he had in 2012.
Griffin was the loser Tuesday, but for the year has doubled his win total from 7 to 14. He threw 200 innings after throwing 82.1 in the big leagues following his June 24 promotion last year. And his strikeout total has soared from 64 then to 171 now.
“He’s been every effective,’’ Melvin said. “That’s not to say that he hasn’t had times when he’s struggled, but everybody does. And he’s worked his way out of that.’’
Griffin says he feels “pretty good’’ about his season, and he’s looking forward to the playoffs.
“I just want to go out and pitch,’’ he said. “I know that being able to start in the big leagues is a blessing.’’

John Hickey

A longtime baseball writer three years into in his second go-round covering to the Oakland A's beat after a dozen years covering the Seattle Mariners. Covered the A's through the late 1980s and 1990s.