OAKLAND -- Since rocking back and forth on a see-saw in 2011, when he had six stints with the A's, lefty reliever Jerry Blevins has quietly turned into a stable presence for Oakland's bullpen this season.
With a 2.36 ERA and 1.08 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) over 30 appearances entering Wednesday -- four more than he made all of last year with Oakland -- Blevins is progressively earning more work in key situations. Take Tuesday night in the eighth, when he was brought in with Red Sox runners on first and second and no outs with a one-run deficit, only to pick up three quick outs, including two strikeouts. In the ninth, he also stranded two, allowing the A's to come back for a walk-off win.
"He's done this here for the last month or so," manager Bob Melvin said Wednesday. "You look at his numbers, and they've been terrific. A little bit of a Houdini act yesterday to get out of that inning. We talk about momentum swings that the defense can bring, and I think that was important based on the fact we had a rough bottom half of the eighth, where we had some opportunities. Now they have the opportunity to break the game open, and we're the ones who come back to the dugout with the momentum."
Blevins is one of three lefties remaining in the A's bullpen following the club's decision to designate veteran Brian Fuentes for assignment Tuesday, and his recent performance, Melvin said, was part of the decision to part ways with Fuentes.
"Every left-hander we have down there now, we feel like we can pitch in plus games," Melvin said. "We're not afraid to run [Blevins] out there. I think consistent work does keep him sharp. He's not a guy that's going to throw the ball by you at 97 [mph]. He needs touch and feel on his pitches, so consistent work really helps him."