As it often is in walk-off wins, the A’s bullpen was an unheralded key on Wednesday night, throwing the final 5 1/3 scoreless innings of the A’s 5-4 win after Jesse Hahn was knocked out in the fourth. One of those innings belonged to Fernando Abad -- Abad’s first appearance in 10 days.
Abad was a key member of Bob Melvin’s bullpen all of last season, and for much of this season he was the only left-handed reliever the A’s had. The latter has changed -- the A’s now have three lefties in the bullpen, four if you include switch-pitcher Pat Venditte. The A’s are hoping the former can become true again.
After allowing two runs on May 19, Abad had an ERA of 7.36. He has not given up a run in his last four outings, an encouraging sign despite the extended layoff between his May 30 appearance against the Yankees and Wednesday night. Melvin said he thought Abad’s pitches looked notably crisper in his inning against the Rangers.
"It looked like he had a really good feel for his off-speed stuff yesterday, whether it was a slower breaking ball or harder breaking ball, and had a good fastball, too," Melvin said. "That was a really good outing for him. His stuff looked as good as we’ve seen all year."
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Abad had a 1.57 ERA last season and held left-handers to a .191 batting average. If Abad can start to regain that form -- lefties are batting .324 against him in 2015 -- it would be a big benefit for the A’s.
Melvin, incidentally, was also asked about managing Venditte’s workload and said the A’s basically "treat him like two different pitchers." Venditte threw 35 pitches in 2 1/3 innings Wednesday, but they were almost evenly split between right- and left-handed.
* Stephen Vogt gets a day at DH today with Josh Phegley behind the plate. The full A’s lineup against Rangers right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez:
And the Rangers’ lineup against A’s left-hander Scott Kazmir:
* Still no Eric Sogard (wrist), but Melvin said the second baseman is "better today" and could potentially pinch-hit if needed. Sogard was not available to hit Wednesday, though he did pinch-run in the eighth inning.
* Ike Davis "felt great" running the bases Wednesday and will start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Nashville on Friday.
Reliever Edward Mujica threw a bullpen session this morning and will likely throw one more Saturday before starting a rehab assignment. Melvin said that could begin Monday with High-A Stockton.
* A couple minor notes from Wednesday: Melvin was asked about the non-call when it appeared Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos might have interfered with a Billy Burns swing in the ninth. Melvin said umpires told him the play was not reviewable and that Burns "threw his bat at the glove," though it appeared Burns did not let go of the bat until it made contact with the glove.
Melvin also credited first baseman Max Muncy with a quick reaction when Hahn picked off Delino DeShields in the first inning. DeShields was originally ruled safe, but Muncy signaled immediately for the A’s dugout to look at the play, and it was overturned after Melvin challenged.
"We’ve also seen where guys do that and it’s more about them than being objective about (the play)," Melvin said. "You have to be careful with that, but you do have some time with replay to see whether you’re right or wrong. In the case of last night, he was right."
* Because both catchers are in the starting lineup today, Melvin was asked who the A’s emergency catcher is. He confirmed it’s Brett Lawrie, adding: "I don’t know if he knows that. But yeah."