ARLINGTON, Texas – Grant Balfour was back on the mound in the ninth inning Saturday, looking to protect a narrow lead for the A’s.
It had been a while.
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The closer hadn’t appeared in a save situation since Sept. 6. In fact, he had pitched in just one game – in any situation – since then. That came in Thursday’s 8-2 victory at Minnesota, an outing that was needed just to knock some rust off.
A’s manager Bob Melvin made an effort to give Balfour some extra days off in light of Balfour struggling in a string of recent outings.
Balfour took the ball Saturday and nailed down his 38th save, allowing just a two-out walk to Mitch Moreland but icing a 1-0 win for Bartolo Colon over the Texas Rangers.
“Bartolo threw a great game, I’m glad it worked out,” Balfour said. “He was unbelievable today.”
And Melvin liked what he saw from Balfour.
“He’s been a little bit rejuvenated in the time he had off,” the manager said. “You could tell in his velocity too. When he’s throwing with some downhill plane and he’s fresh, he’s really good.”
Melvin opted to use Sean Doolittle to record a four-out save Friday night despite the fact he had Balfour warming up. Melvin said Saturday that he explained to Balfour his rationale –he wanted Doolittle to face the left-handed hitters Texas had coming up, and he wanted Balfour to be fresh in case he was needed Saturday.