Blevins settling in as key piece in A's bullpen

Blevins settling in as key piece in A's bullpen

Blevins settling in as key piece in A's bullpen
OAKLAND -- If there's been one consistent bright spot for the A's in the midst of the three-game losing streak they carried into Saturday's game against New York, it's the bullpen.

Oakland's relievers have allowed just two earned runs over 10 1/3 innings in two games against the Angels and one against the Yankees, picking up the slack twice when starters Graham Godfrey and Tyson Ross had to be pulled early.

Overall, the bullpen has posted a 1.40 ERA in the A's last 11 games, lowering its ERA to 2.42 -- good for third in the American League -- after a bit of a shaky start to the season.

Left-hander Jerry Blevins has been a big part of that success. He threw a career-high-tying 2 2/3 innings of relief in Friday night's 6-3 loss to the Yankees, allowing no hits and striking out three. After allowing two earned runs in his first three games this season, Blevins hasn't allowed an earned run in 12 of his past 14 games, recording a 1.45 ERA in that span and getting both left- and right-handed hitters out.

Indeed, the 28-year-old has seemingly solidified his spot in Oakland's bullpen, and manager Bob Melvin said as much before Saturday's game. Though Blevins was on the team's Opening Day roster last season, he bounced between Triple-A Sacramento and the big leagues.

But last season marked the end of Blevins' option years, meaning Oakland can't send him to the Minors without exposing him to waivers. Having options last year made Blevins an easy choice to send down when the team needed to clear room. Blevins said his new status has made for an easier year mentally, knowing that he has more of an established place in the Majors.

"It's a lot easier to just show up to the park every day knowing that your ability to pitch is the only factor that plays into whether or not you're going to be there," Blevins said. "It's [nice] knowing that it's performance-based, instead of a little of the business side and fitting in."

Blevins has already made 17 appearances this season, nine fewer than he made for Oakland in all of 2011.