Oct 3, 2012, 8:03 PM EDT
For the A’s, it’s as easy as B, C, D
In sweeping the Rangers to win the AL West this week, the A’s had Grant Balfour, Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle pitch the final three innings of all three games. They didn’t go in that order — Balfour had the ninth, while the other two alternate in the seventh and eighth — but they are pretty much interchangable. They combined to allow three hits in nine scoreless innings between the three games.
It wasn’t just those three games either. Cook hasn’t allowed a run in 14 appearances. Balfour has gone 10 straight without giving up a run. Doolittle is the ugly duckling of the group, having allowed a run just last week.
But Doolittle is the best story. A supplemental first-round pick as a first baseman five years ago, he just made the move to the mound last year. He entered 2012 with a total of one inning of game experience, that coming in Rookie ball at the end of 2007. After quickly tearing through the minors, he arrived on June 5 and struck out three Rangers in 1 1/3 innings. Five days later, he struck out five Diamondbacks in two innings. He’ll now head into the postseason with a 60/11 K/BB ratio and a 3.04 ERA in 47 1/3 innings.
Cook was the lesser name the A’s picked up from the Diamondbacks along with Jarrod Parker in the Trevor Cahill deal. He got his first taste of the majors last year, giving up six runs in 7 2/3 innings. This year, he started off with 23 straight scoreless innings before finally giving up a run on May 28. He replaced the struggling Balfour in the closer’s role in June and was named Oakland’s lone All-Star a month later. At the end of July, he hit a rough patch of his own, blowing four saves in five opportunities. The A’s gave the closer’s role back to Balfour then, but Cook didn’t sulk. From Aug. 11 on, he allowed runs in just one of his 23 appearances. He finished the season with a 2.09 ERA.
And then there’s the 35-year-old Balfour, the veteran of Oakland’s staff since Bartolo Colon was suspended. Unlike pretty much every other pitcher the A’s are relying on right now, Balfour has a history of success that extends beyond this year. That said, he was beset by arm problems throughout his 20s and never established himself as a major leaguer until he was 30. He entered this season with 10 career saves. Now he has 34. He finished with a 2.53 ERA in a career-high 74 2/3 innings.
For the A’s manage to go deep into the postseason, one imagines the trio of relievers will have to keep doing what they’re doing. There’s been no let up through some pretty strenuous workloads this far, and with the win today, at least they can all look forward to two days off before they’ll be needed again Saturday.
Jul 7, 2015, 11:05 PM EDT
It doesn’t appear Justin Morneau will be returning to the Rockies anytime soon.
Jul 7, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT
On Tuesday, Miguel Sano hit the first of what should be many major league home runs.
Jul 7, 2015, 9:25 PM EDT
Hunter Pence is back from his second major injury this season. Maybe this time he’ll stick.
Jul 7, 2015, 8:35 PM EDT
The Phillies’ GM was pretty blunt about who would be playing second base when Chase Utley returns. It ain’t Chase Utley.
Jul 7, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT
Albert Pujols will participate in the 2015 Home Run Derby. It will be his fourth career appearance in the Derby.
Jul 7, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT
Jenrry Mejia is back with the Mets after missing 80 games due to a positive test for Stanozolol.
Jul 7, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT
Paulo Orlando did what kids pretend to do in their backyards: he hit a walk-off grand slam.
Jul 7, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
On the bright side: he has his velocity back.
Jul 7, 2015, 4:10 PM EDT
Two key players are ready to rejoin the Yankees after missing extended time with injuries.
Jul 7, 2015, 3:57 PM EDT
He’ll likely be evaluated for a concussion.
Jul 7, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT
Yes, those are real people.
Jul 7, 2015, 2:25 PM EDT
He went 0-3 with a 6.56 ERA in five starts.
Jul 7, 2015, 1:17 PM EDT
Can you feel the excitement?
Jul 7, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
There are guys who check stuff these days, Dave. So better to be vague.
Jul 7, 2015, 11:44 AM EDT
Jaso has been out since Opening Day with a bruised left wrist.
Jul 7, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT
Many have sured Major League Baseball over such things in the past.
Jul 7, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT
“I’ve always been straightforward that I want to go play for a contender and I’m not going to shy away from it.”
Jul 7, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
And even Andrelton Simmons, the best defensive player in baseball, says he wouldn’t sit as close as that without protective netting.
Jul 7, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Odorizzi threw 5.2 shutout innings on 73 pitches in a minor-league rehab start Monday.
Jul 7, 2015, 8:58 AM EDT
Not that I’m gonna try to tell you how to play this game.
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