OAKLAND -- On the mound in a one-run game vying for his first save of the season following two lengthy shoulder rehabs, Sean Doolittle reached for the fastball this home crowd had long missed and needed just five of them to dispatch the heart of Houston's lineup for a 10-9 A's victory on Monday.
"That was awesome," Doolittle said. "The adrenaline was definitely flowing. It was right up there with my debut and when I came back from the DL, as far as my energy level and the atmosphere. This time, I did a better job of harnessing that energy and using it to help myself. Fortunately, I was able to have a quick one."
Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa both jumped on the first pitch they saw from Doolittle, each popping out at the edge of the right side of the infield. Carlos Gomez took note and let a fastball whiz by him for a called first strike. He swung at the next two, missing each time.
Just like that, Doolittle was back -- securing a victory in the kind of game that, so many times this season, has slipped from the A's hands. They entered the day with 31 one-run losses, most in the Majors.
Doolittle has watched the majority of them from the sidelines, having been limited to six prior games because of a pair of shoulder injuries following an All-Star 2014 campaign in which he compiled 22 saves.
"There were a lot of times this year I wasn't sure how or if or when I was going to come back, and I've really felt that every outing I've had so far has been progressively better and I've felt progressively more comfortable, in a better rhythm, gaining confidence in my shoulder," he said. "Today, for it to culminate in a one-run game, going through the teeth of their order, at home, it was a lot of fun."
"If you're drawing it up, not the guys you really want to run a left-hander out there against in the last inning," said manager Bob Melvin, smiling.
But Melvin had spoken with Doolittle prior to the game, mostly inquiring about his readiness for back-to-back appearances for the first time all season.
"I told them, 'I'm feeling really good,' and they said they would take the training wheels off," Doolittle said. "They didn't tell me what scenario or what situation I would pitch. That's just the way it worked out. I'm still shaking."
"It's nice to have him back," Melvin said. "We needed a one-run win."
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.