OAKLAND -- Grant Balfour maintains the confidence of his manager, and the A’s fiery closer made it clear he still has confidence in himself despite some recent late-game adventures.
Balfour has allowed at least one run in four of his last six outings. He has gone 4-for-5 in save opportunities during that span, but he’s given up six earned runs and five walks in 5 2/3 innings.
Asked how he felt about his recent outings, Balfour responded:
“I’m happy with how the last few outings have gone. I’ve got three saves in three opportunities in the last three outings. You gotta be happy with that. Pitching’s about confidence. I’m still confident, you know? I’ve been getting the job done all year.
“I’m not gonna let fans or media or anyone try to question me now. If you can find a guy that can go out there and get it done, night in and night out, 75 times a year and get it done every time, come and let me know.”
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The numbers back how reliable Balfour has been over the entire season. He is 37-for-39 in save opportunities, a 94.9 percent success rate that ranks second in the American League. He has just two blown saves going all the way back to May of last season, though he pitched in a setup role for a portion of that season.
But it’s also undeniable that he’s made things tough on himself lately. He entered with a three-run lead Friday night and gave up a run before closing out the game and stranding runners at second and third in a 7-5 A’s victory.
[RECAP: A's 7, Astros 5]
After Friday’s game, A’s manager Bob Melvin described Balfour’s performance as “shaky.”
“This isn’t the best stretch right now, and we’ll monitor that,” Melvin said.
On Saturday morning, Melvin expressed confidence in his closer. Melvin and Balfour both pointed out that Friday night’s outing included an infield single, a softly hit single to right and an error on a ground ball that should have resulted in at least one out.
“He’s got two blown saves this year,” Melvin said. “How many big league closers can say that?”
He added that all relievers experience ups and downs through an entire season.
“You have to stay confident with those guys, and sometimes you have to let them fail,” Melvin said. “… If you’re too quick to (remove them from their role), it shows you don’t have confidence in them.”
Balfour, with some colorful language sprinkled in, said he doesn’t care what criticism his recent outings might have drawn.
“In this job, people are gonna criticize you,” he said. “If you wanna criticize me, then criticize me all year. Don’t jump on the bandwagon, on and off of it. You’re either with me or you’re not. I get pissed off. You can write all that.”