Bullpen proving to be major strength for A's

Bullpen proving to be major strength for A's

DENVER -- A breakout A's offense has garnered plenty of well-deserved attention over the past couple of days, but the outstanding work being done by the team's bullpen is just as worthy of some.

Oakland's starters have lasted only nine innings combined with 13 runs allowed during the club's last two wins, both of which have brought about back-and-forth leads in the high-scoring confines of Coors Field. Its relievers, meanwhile, have yet to allow a run in nine innings in the series, and on Wednesday those efforts proved particularly rewarding, giving the hitters a chance to come back from a two-run deficit in the ninth for a 10-8 victory.

"Our bullpen, really, was the MVP of the game once again," Jonny Gomes said. "They have been lately. It's always a good feeling when that door opens down there and they're coming in and getting some outs."

The A's relief corps has not allowed a run in the last three games after going 0-3 with four blown saves and a 5.40 ERA over the previous 12 contests. Righty Ryan Cook, now heavily in the mix of a three-man closer-by-committee group, has been a big part of that success, picking up the first two saves of his career on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Despite back-to-back outings, Cook was considered to potentially be available for Thursday's series finale. He has not allowed a run in 25 of his 26 appearances this season.

"I think that's been as big a key the last two games as the offense, because those games start out as offensive games, and it feels like the last man standing," manager Bob Melvin said. "For the bullpen to come in with the game going in that type of direction, to be able to turn it around and put up zeros is equally impressive. They've given us a chance to come back and score some runs and win the ballgames."