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Holy Toledo! A’s Bassitt king for a day in Cleveland

Chris Bassitt, from Toledo, was basically pitching at home in Cleveland Saturday. He didn't get the win, but it was a good night.

Chris Bassitt, from Toledo, was basically pitching at home in Cleveland Saturday. He didn’t get the win, but it was a good night.

The second-largest crowd of the season was in Progressive Field Saturday to watch the A’s and the Indians and some post-game fireworks.

Through it all, one voice stood out for Oakland starting pitcher Chris Bassitt. He estimated that he had 50-75 family and friends from Toledo in the crowd.

“I could hear my mom (Dawn),’’ Bassitt said. “I don’t know why. Everyone else was just noise.’’

Bassitt is making some noise of his own. He’s made three starts in the last two weeks as a fill-in for injured pitchers, subbing for Jesse Hahn Saturday night after back-to-back starts when Sonny Gray wasn’t able to pitch.

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The left side of A’s bullpen may be rounding into form

Eric O'Flaherty is pitching his best baseball of the season right now, according to A's manager Bob Melvin.

Eric O’Flaherty is pitching his best baseball of the season right now, according to A’s manager Bob Melvin.

There are indications that the left side of the A’s bullpen may be getting it together just a little.

In his last six games, Eric O’Flaherty has a 1.93 ERA. In his last six games, Fernando Abad has a 1.69 ERA. And despite the two walks and two-run single he has allowed Friday, in his last nine games, Drew Pomeranz has an ERA of 0.69.

The teams the A’s have faced on this trip, the Yankees and the Indians, are two of the teams in the American League with particular left-handed offensive depth.

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Graveman’s competitive side sits well with A’s

Kendall Graveman has impressed A's with his competitive nature.

Kendall Graveman has impressed A’s with his competitive nature.

Kendall Graveman doesn’t bring a 98-mph fastball to the pitching mound, but the A’s starter seems to have something just about as valuable – the desire never to back down.

That showed in the fourth inning Friday when he walked Michael Bourn, the Indians’ No. 9 hitter, rather than throw a pitch over the middle of the plate.

The next man up for Cleveland was the Tribe’s only All-Star, Jason Kipnis, but that didn’t seem to faze Graveman.

“I knew I had a base open. I’m not going to give in,’’ Graveman said. “I’d been throwing the ball well against Kipnis. “And at 3-2, if we throw something down and he doesn’t swing, so what?

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Hahn gets shut down for two weeks with forearm strain

Jesse Hahn will have two weeks without throwing thanks to a right forearm strain, the A's say.

Jesse Hahn will have two weeks without throwing thanks to a right forearm strain, the A’s say.

The A’s got what they hope is good news Friday when an MRI revealed that starter Jesse Hahn has a right forearm strain.

Hahn, whose turn in the rotation Saturday in Progressive Field will be taken by Chris Bassitt, will be shut down for two weeks, after which he will be evaluated.

If two weeks without throwing doesn’t sound like good news, the A’s were just happy that there is no apparent elbow damage. Hahn said the pain was originating in his elbow, and elbow problems tend to be more problematic for pitchers.

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So near and yet so far: the A’s and their one-run losses

The Angels' Mike Trout scored in the seventh inning April 30, then later made a game-saving catch, helping to pin a one-run 6-5 loss on A's.

The Angels’ Mike Trout scored in the seventh inning April 30, then later made a game-saving catch, helping to pin a one-run 6-5 loss on A’s.

Coming up one-run short has happened to Oakland so often that A’s manager Bob Melvin is sounding like a broken record.

When Marcus Semien’s ninth-inning homer left the A’s one-run short in a 5-4 loss to the Yankees Wednesday night, it was the 12th time Oakland had made a late push only to falter.

“That’s what is consistent; we continue to fight back,’’ Melvin said after the game. “A lot of these one-run games are because we’re down and we come back but can’t quite get there.

“It’s a matter of getting over the hump and winning some of these games where we’re coming back and ending up a little bit short.’’

Melvin tracks it back to an April 30th game against the Angels when the A’s offense came up with three runs, loaded the bases and saw Ike Davis hit a screamer to the center field wall that Mike Trout ran down.

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Kazmir plays catch Thursday, surprising his manager

Scott Kazmir threw in the outfield to test his left triceps injury, and didn't seem to have a problem.

Scott Kazmir threw in the outfield to test his left triceps injury, and didn’t seem to have a problem.

Scott Kazmir surprised manager Bob Melvin by feeling good enough to play catch in the outfield before the game Thursday morning in Yankee Stadium.

Kazmir left Wednesday’s game after three innings due to left triceps tightness. Melvin feared he might lose his left-handed starter for a while, but even Wednesday night Kazmir said he thought he would be able to pitch if his next start was in five days, as usual.

It’s not. With the All-Star game next Tuesday in Cincinnati, the A’s will have a four-day break. For Kazmir, it will be a minimum of eight days off between starts, and it will probably be more.

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Scribner woes continue; Phegley takes blame for first HR

Evan Scribner is having a terrible time keeping the ball from climbing fences.

Evan Scribner is having a terrible time keeping the ball from climbing fences.

Things are not going at all well for Evan Scribner these days.

The right-handed reliever began the season moving from middle relief to setup work because of a 1.10 ERA in his first 14 games. But as his roles became more significant, his success rate fell off and he lost the late inning work.

He was asked to soak up some innings after Scott Kazmir’s triceps injury forced him out of the game after three innings, and Scribner gave up two homers in relief for the second time in six days.

Scribner’s ERA has blown up to 4.06, and he has allowed 11 homers, the most of any Major League reliever.

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Kazmir lifted after three innings with triceps tightness

A’s left-handed starter Scott Kazmir left Wednesday night’s start against the Yankees after three innings with what the team described as left triceps tightness.

Kazmir, who came into the start holding down the sixth-best ERA in the American League at 2.56, is the focus of not just the A’s but of many contending Major League clubs. Although the last-place A’s haven’t said he’s available, with the trade deadline coming up July 31 and Kazmir’s contract with Oakland up at the end of the year, the assumption is that he’s available for the right deal.

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Pomeranz has proved to be a big relief to A’s bullpen

Drew Pomeranz's move into relief work has strengthened the pen

Drew Pomeranz’s move into relief work has strengthened the pen

The move of Drew Pomeranz from the starting rotation has been good for Pomeranz, who has a 1.15 ERA in 17 games since coming off the disabled list June 3.

It’s also been good for the A’s, who have had something of a miserable time watching their relievers, until lately. Since June 20, the relievers have a combined ERA of 1.96 thanks in large part to the left-handed Pomeranz, who hasn’t allowed a run in eight games (nine innings) over that span.

More than that, Pomeranz’s ability to warm up in a hurry, face right-handed hitters and throw multiple innings has given manager Bob Melvin options he didn’t have when Pomeranz was in the starting rotation.

“He’s really been the stabilizing force that allows us to get to (closer Tyler) Clippard,’’ Melvin said. “We’ve had bits of success with other guys, but when you have a lefty down there that can neutralize power left-handed bat and he’s a starter who is used to seeing seven or eight righties in the lineup, you’re confident you’re going to get your matchup with him.

“He can give you more than one inning, not that want to do that too often because you might not have him three days in a row. But here recently, when you look at our bullpen numbers, he’s been the key reason for is.’’

Melvin didn’t know if Pomeranz would be available for Wednesday’s game.

 

–The A’s starting rotation has the best overall ERA in the American League at 3.01 with the starters allowing one or zero runs in five of the last eight games and 21 of the last 42 games.

The only real downside to that his starters are racking up lots of innings. Given that, Melvin is looking forward to being able to give every one of his starters a minimum of four days off at the All-Star break.

Even All-Star starter Sonny Gray will get that time off, because he’s pitching on Sunday in Cleveland, and that mean he won’t be pitching during the All-Star Game itself.

As a group, the A’s starters are averaging 6.1 innings per start.

“Any time you have the consistency that we’ve had out of our starters, good health means they’re out there and good performance means they’re out there for a while. The All-Star break will help.’’

As part of that, Jesse Hahn is being pushed back in the rotation to Saturday to give him and extra three days off. He has been dealing with some elbow tightness, but a bullpen session Wednesday went well.

He’s already pitched 96.2 innings this season and is on pace for 193.1 innings after he pitched just 116.2 innings combined between the majors and minors last year.

 

NOTES

–With Cleveland just 250 miles from the site of the All-Star Game in Cincinnati, the A’s and Indians are combining to get their All-Stars to the game after Oakland and Cleveland finish up a series Sunday in Cleveland. The idea is to rent a luxury party bus and have the A’s Sonny Gray and Stephen Vogt and the Indians’ Jason Kipnis and their families make the drive as a group.

–The A’s got newly promoted outfielder Jake Smolinski in Wednesday’s lineup in right field. That means that the only left-handed bat in the Oakland lineup against Yankees’ lefty C.C. Sabathia belonged to Stephen Vogt, who was playing first base. Vogt is hitting .270 with a .349 on-base percentage against lefties this year while his career numbers against southpaws are just .241 and .304

–Lefty closer Sean Doolittle’s first test of his left shoulder went well, Melvin reported. Doolittle, out with a strained left shoulder, was only playing catch, but he walked away feeling good.

–Disabled right-handed pitcher Taylor Thompson is down to throw 20 pitches’ worth of live batting practice Thursday. Thompson has been out since spring training with a right shoulder strain.

–Rain canceled batting practice for the second straight day for the A’s. What was different Wednesday from Tuesday is that the Yankees’ BP session also was washed out.

 

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An odd night for A’s bullpen, but completely effective

Drew Pomeranz got a rare double play at just the right time to help the A's out of an eighth-inning jam.

Drew Pomeranz got a rare double play at just the right time to help the A’s out of an eighth-inning jam.

For a group that picked up a win and a save and contributed three scoreless innings to Oakland’s 4-3, 10-inning win over the Yankees, Tuesday night was something of an odd evening for the A’s bullpen.

It began when the first man out of the pen, Fernando Rodriguez, struck out the only man he was scheduled to face, Alex Rodriguez, in the eighth inning. The ball got by catcher Stephen Vogt, however, and Rodriguez was on first with no one out on a strikeout-plus-wild pitch in what was at the time a 3-all tie.

The A’s went to Drew Pomeranz at that point. He’s the hottest of the A’s left-handed relievers, so the choice made sense, but he’s a fly ball pitcher who doesn’t get many grounders.

Still there he was, inducing a grounder from Mark Teixeira. It went off Pomeranz’s glove to Marcus Semien and the A’s shortstop began a double play.

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