Balfour thriving back in setup role for A's

Balfour thriving back in setup role for A's

SEATTLE -- Stripped of closer duties following a rough stretch, A's righty Grant Balfour has found his groove again in the setup role he's occupied for the majority of his career.

Anointed the closer out of Spring Training, Balfour made good on that decision, allowing just one run over his first 10 appearances while picking up five saves. Yet he proceeded to surrender seven runs combined in the six outings that followed, leading manager Bob Melvin to give Brian Fuentes a try at the ninth inning.

Fuentes' stint there proved even shorter, and Ryan Cook has since slid into the role. Meanwhile, Balfour has quietly returned to top form, having not allowed a run over his past nine games entering Tuesday, marking a stretch of 10 2/3 scoreless innings.

Balfour now has a 0.77 ERA in 10 games in June after posting a 3.65 ERA in 13 games in May and a 4.09 mark in 11 April appearances.

"I think he's been very consistent in the setup role," Melvin said. "The only really rough patch he had was closing. I think it was maybe coincidental that the tough period he had came then."