HOUSTON -- Injured A's closer Sean Doolittle's temporary replacement was not mentioned by name on Monday, but there's good reason to believe another lefty, Eric O'Flaherty, is the guy for the job, particularly after he warming up for a potential save situation on Monday.
That ended when the A's upped their lead, but O'Flaherty was still brought out for the ninth in an 8-2 win over the Astros.
"Either way, it was good to get him in the ninth inning today," manager Bob Melvin said. "We're still dealing with a guy that's a year-plus off from Tommy John, so you don't want to pump-fake a guy like that in that situation. But just to get out there in the ninth inning and have that feeling is good for him."
Before the game, Melvin hinted that he'd like to keep certain relievers in their set roles. So while setup man Luke Gregerson may have appeared a deserving candidate to assume ninth-inning duties, it seems Melvin would prefer to keep using his services in the eighth.
Moreover, fellow right-handers Ryan Cook and Dan Otero have been handling the sixth and seventh innings with ease, and it's O'Flaherty who has been called on to handle any one of them, depending on the day.
"I'm not going to say who is going to close at this point," Melvin said before Monday's game, "but I do have a guy in mind, and we want to keep some guys in their roles as much as possible. So I'm not prepared to say this is my closer, but we have an idea. I've spoken to the group. They're comfortable with it, and we'll wait and see how today's game plays out."
O'Flaherty has not allowed a run over his last 12 games, a scoreless streak spanning 11 1/3 innings, and he's only given up runs in one of his in 15 total appearances since returning from the disabled list July 3. He has no closing experience and hasn't recorded a save in nine big league seasons, but he is equipped with the ability to get both lefties and righties out, a la Doolittle.
Doolittle was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a right intercostal strain, leaving the A's without their All-Star closer for at least two or three weeks.