A's relievers pitching admirably in close games

A's relievers pitching admirably in close games

A's relievers pitching admirably in close games
OAKLAND -- It's easy to forget about the bullpen when a team rallies to get a late-inning win, as the focus naturally turns to the offensive plays that spark the victory. But behind every dramatic win is a relief corps that pitches well enough to keep its team in the game.

That's certainly been the case for the A's in their last three games, all of them wins in which they were trailing in the sixth inning or later. The latest was Friday night, when Oakland scored a run to tie the game at 1-1 in the eighth inning, before eventually winning in the 11th.

The attention was paid to rookie Chris Carter's walk-off home run, but he wouldn't have been in position for the game-ender had the team's bullpen not pitched four scoreless innings to keep Oakland in the game.

All told, in the past three games, six Oakland relievers have combined to throw 10 spotless innings with their team either facing a deficit or clinging to a one-run lead. Despite the high-pressure environment, the bullpen has thrived.

"It seems like each and every guy that we throw a little bit more on their plate, they do extremely well with it," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "[Jerry] Blevins is matching up late in games now and doing some things that he wasn't earlier. [Jordan] Norberto is going to be pushed into an elevated role, too. We feel like we have a lot of options down there, not just a couple of guys."

Perhaps more impressive is that several of the relievers who have been thrown into the fire are young, and have impressed despite their relative inexperience. Left-hander Sean Doolittle and closer Ryan Cook are rookies, and Norberto is just 25 years old.

Doolittle said he and his peers have compensated for their youth by looking to each other -- they see one reliever pitch well under pressure, and the others know they can do the same when their number is called.

"It's kind of like everybody has that mentality down there, that we're just going to put up as many zeroes as it takes, like [Friday], for our offense to come around," Doolittle said. "The way things have been going, it's only a matter of time. It's been really fun."