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Blackley endures eventful inning against Angels

Allows three hits, but no runs -- and nearly knocked off mound by wind

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Perhaps an asterisk should be placed next to any stat that came out of Sunday's Cactus League game between the A's and Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

The culprit: Extreme wind conditions.

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Just ask Travis Blackley, the A's starter who balked -- it wasn't called -- because a gust of wind nearly knocked him off the rubber.

"It was going to blow me over, I swear," Blackley said.

The southpaw's Cactus League debut wasn't too memorable, otherwise -- for better or worse. Blackley offered up three hits and struck out one but didn't give up a run against an Angels lineup featuring just one regular in Mark Trumbo. Los Angeles is keeping most of its starters out of Cactus League action for at least a few more days because of the lengthier spring.

Blackley was partially satisfied with his fastball -- "when I could get a good grip on it," -- and deemed his cutter to be working best. His curveball, naturally, will come last, but it looks like his pickoff move is already in midseason form.

The 30-year-old southpaw displayed one early to get leadoff man Tommy Field at first base for the first out, but he still proceeded to use 30 pitches in the inning, albeit with what he called a tight strike zone, preventing him from coming out for the second frame.

Blackley will be stretched out as a starter this spring and has a very good shot at making the team as a long-relief option, after going 6-4 with a 3.86 ERA in 24 games, including 15 starts, with Oakland last year.

"I would have liked another inning to find a rhythm," Blackley said, "but it's about baby steps. I'll take as many zeroes as I can right now, as ugly as it may be.

"You can't read too much into it. I'm not reading too much into it, anyway. The bullpen stuff is working the way I want it to, so it's just a matter of getting it down at game speed, which you can't really replicate in the bullpen."

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