MLB Team Report - Oakland Athletics - INSIDE PITCH
HOUSTON -- When Oakland left-hander Sean Doolittle suffered through a nightmarish eighth inning on Saturday night, allowing four runs on four hits without recording an out, it paved the way for the sixth loss of the season by the Athletics' bullpen.
Take those six losses and align them with the Athletics' six blown saves and it is easy to question exactly what is amiss with Oakland relievers.
"Anytime your bullpen absorbs some losses it does mean you're playing some close games," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. "We're playing some games where we're not, too. Some of the close games we're losing. We're not used to that. Last couple years we've won most of those games late so we're off to a little bit of a slow start as far as that goes."
By most every other statistical measure, the Athletics' bullpen remains as formidable as ever. Oakland relievers lead the league in ERA (2.67) and WHIP (1.15) while ranking third in strikeouts/walks ratio (2.69), opponent's batting average (.211) and FIP (3.04). It might be tempting to blame their closer-by-committee approach, but the Athletics' early bullpen struggles appear to be a byproduct of small sample size.
"It's still a very talented bullpen," Melvin said. "It won't continue this way in my opinion."
MLB Team Report - Oakland Athletics - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Lost two
NEXT: Athletics (RHP Sonny Gray, 3-1, 2.25 ERA) at Rangers (RHP Yu Darvish, 1-0, 1.61 ERA)
--RHP Dan Otero allowed the first home run of his career on Sunday, a two-run shot to Astros 2B Jose Altuve in the seventh inning. Entering the series finale, Otero had worked 63 2/3 innings without allowing a homer, the longest active streak among active pitchers.
--RHP Jim Johnson made his first appearance in four days, striking out a pair of batters in a scoreless eighth inning in the Athletics' 5-1 loss on Sunday. Johnson, the deposed closer, was set to enter a save situation on Friday before the Athletics erupted for seven runs in the ninth inning of their 12-5 victory. Johnson has not allowed a run over his last six outings.
--DH Josh Donaldson had his eight-game hitting streak snapped after finishing 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout against Astros RHP Collin McHugh. Donaldson had been 5-for-12 with three home runs, four walks and six RBIs over the first three games of the series against Houston. He did extend his streak of reaching base safely to 20 consecutive games.
--LHP Tommy Milone worked a season-high 6 2/3 innings while matching his season low of five hits allowed in the Athletics' 5-1 loss to the Astros. Milone did surrender a season-worst four earned runs, but at one stretch retired 12 of 13 batters before allowing three runs in his final inning of work.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Tommy (Milone) pitched great. Very few balls were hit hard. He pitched as well as we've seen him in awhile." -- Athletics manager Bob Melvin, after Sunday's game.
MLB Team Report - Oakland Athletics - ROSTER REPORT
--LF Yoenis Cespedes (left hamstring strain) was injured running out a grounder April 24. He sat out April 25-27. He is day-to-day.
--INF Jake Elmore (strained left quad) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 28. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on April 24.
--RHP Fernando Rodriguez (Tommy John surgery in March 2013) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 21. He threw in several minor league games the final two weeks of spring training and will continue his comeback during a 30-day rehab assignment at Triple-A Sacramento. A's manager Bob Melvin said April 2 that he expects Rodriguez to be on the A's 25-man roster at some point this season.
--RHP A.J. Griffin (right flexor tendinitis) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 21. Griffin will consult with Dr. Thomas Mehlhoff on April 29 in Houston for a second opinion on the elbow.
--LHP Eric O'Flaherty (Tommy John surgery in May 2013) went on the 60-day disabled list Feb. 17. He threw 35 pitches in a bullpen session April 22, and he is on track to join the A's sometime during midseason.
--RHP Jarrod Parker (torn right ulnar collateral ligament) went on the 60-day disabled list March 20. He had a second Tommy John surgery March 24, and he will miss the entire season.
RHP Sonny Gray
LHP Scott Kazmir
RHP Jesse Chavez
RHP Dan Straily
LHP Tommy Milone
LHP Sean Doolittle
RHP Jim Johnson
RHP Luke Gregerson
RHP Ryan Cook
RHP Dan Otero
LHP Fernando Abad
LHP Drew Pomeranz
1B Daric Barton
2B Eric Sogard
SS Jed Lowrie
3B Josh Donaldson
INF Nick Punto
INF Alberto Callaspo
INF Brandon Moss
LF Yoenis Cespedes
CF Coco Crisp
RF Josh Reddick
OF Craig Gentry