OAKLAND -- On a Monday night when the entire A's bullpen was strong -- pitching eight scoreless innings in the team's eventual 15-inning triumph -- left-hander Jerry Blevins was the "unsung hero," in the words of manager Bob Melvin.
Blevins extended himself by throwing 2 2/3 innings and 35 pitches and escaped a jam in the 14th after allowing the first two Rays to reach base.
In the past, Melvin has referred to Blevins as a "matchup guy," someone he brings in just to face left-handers. And while the lefty has come through in those situations, he's proven himself much more than just a specialist.
In fact, he's thrown almost equally to lefties and righties (22 and 23 innings, respectively) this season, and actually has a lower ERA when facing right-handed hitters (1.96 to 2.45).
Melvin said his reliever has "come a long way," but Blevins insisted he's always felt like he could get any hitter out in any situation, and that he's tried to avoid the lefty specialist role by showing the ability to do more.
"You can pitch yourself into and out of any situation that's provided," Blevins said. "If you pitch well enough, you're going to move yourself up. That's all I strive to do is just get outs, no matter who I'm facing. You do that, they'll see it."
At 45 innings, Blevins is on pace to far surpass his career-high output of 48 2/3 innings from 2010, and he's proven willing and able to throw longer outings when the team needs him to, like Monday.
The A's can thank him for another reason. Blevins' many tweets of pictures of donuts led a fan to bring him a box of the pastries before Monday's game, and when the 15th inning began, he and his teammates began chowing down. The inning ended, of course, with a walk-off.
"Rally donuts," Blevins joked.