Oakland A's

Bob Melvin still searching for right ‘recipe’ in A’s bullpen

Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin has the last word but is ejected by home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott during the fourth inning on Sunday, April 26, 2015, at O.co Coliseum in Oakland.
Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin has the last word but is ejected by home plate umpire Quinn Wolcott during the fourth inning on Sunday, April 26, 2015, at O.co Coliseum in Oakland. TNS

The A’s bullpen was charged with its seventh loss through 22 games on Wednesday night, two more than any other major-league team. The unit’s 4.50 ERA is the majors’ fourth-highest.

Manager Bob Melvin has tried shuffling responsibilities, most notably by moving Evan Scribner into the set-up role. Ryan Cook was called up to inject some life. The A’s have used Eric O’Flaherty just twice since April 17, with O’Flaherty taking the loss in both of those games.

Nothing has seemed to solve the April woes of a bullpen that was supposed to be a team strength. Melvin said it’s up to him to keep searching.

"I’ve got to find the right recipe, I just haven’t done it yet," Melvin said. "Getting (closer Sean) Doolittle back would help things out, everybody back in their roles. But at this point in time, with the struggles we’ve had, it’s my job to try to find what the right recipe is down there."

Bridging the gap to Scribner and closer Tyler Clippard right now is the issue. Dan Otero, who has been used in set-up duty in the past, has not pitched past the seventh inning in a nine-inning game since April 17. From the left-handed side, O’Flaherty has struggled and Fernando Abad came on to face one hitter Wednesday night -- Kole Calhoun -- and walked him to load the bases for Mike Trout in the seventh. Trout hit a two-run double off Scribner.

Doolittle threw a 25-pitch bullpen today -- 25 pitches off a mound, fastball and changeup -- and will throw another on Sunday. But he’s still likely weeks away from returning (the A’s have not given a timetable) so Melvin would prefer a solution sooner.

"It’s not (a strength) right now, but it will be in my opinion," Melvin said of the bullpen. "I think maybe guys are trying to do a little too much. We do have some quality guys down there with some track records. We’re just not getting it done at this point. My feeling is we’ll get a lot better as we go along."

* The A’s lineup for today’s series finale against the Angels:

CF Fuld

SS Semien

1B Davis

DH Butler

RF Reddick

3B Lawrie

LF Canha

2B Sogard

C Phegley

And the Angels’ lineup against Jesse Chavez:

SS Aybar

2B Giavotella

CF Trout

RF Calhoun

DH Freese

1B Cron

LF Joyce

C Butera

3B Featherston

* Melvin said Mark Canha was unavailable for a couple games recently with an "allergy bronchitis thing" that drained his energy. Canha is back in the lineup today with Stephen Vogt getting a day off and Melvin trying to kick-start the offense.

* It’s a regular rest day for Vogt. Melvin added the A’s have a stretch coming up where they don’t face many left-handed starters, so he wants to get Josh Phegley some playing time.

* The A’s are 0-7 in day games. Any explanation?

"I don’t know," Melvin said. "I can’t explain it. There are a lot of stats we have right now that I can’t explain."

Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

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