Teams that lack a dominant ninth-inning reliever, like the Dodgers without the sidelined Kenley Jansen, will often use a closer-by-committee. Then there are the Oakland Athletics, who have the luxury of employing a committee of closers.
The A’s unleashed all three of their ninth-inning specialists on the Angels on Sunday, using Fernando Rodney (4-2), Jeurys Familia and Blake Treinen to close the final three innings of an 8-7 victory in front of 38,364 in Angel Stadium.
Rodney, who saved 25 games for Minnesota before being traded to Oakland on Wednesday, struck out one batter in a scoreless seventh inning. Familia, who saved 17 games for the New York Mets before the A’s acquired him July 21, was dinged for two runs in the eighth, giving up a two-out, two-run single to Shohei Ohtani.
But Familia got Albert Pujols to ground out to end the inning and Treinen struck out the side on 11 pitches in the ninth for his 30th save.
“We feel like we have a deep bullpen,” manager Bob Melvin said, “but on days like this, you really need an extended bullpen.”
Mike Scioscia knows the feeling. An injury to starter Nick Tropeano forced the Angels manager to treat Sunday as a “bullpen game,” and relievers Jose Alvarez, Eduardo Paredes, Williams Jerez and Blake Parker combined for 5 1/3 scoreless innings. The seven Angels pitchers combined for 16 strikeouts.
But starter Taylor Cole gave up three runs and three hits in 1 1/3 innings, and Oakland pinned a four-spot on Jim Johnson (4-3) in the fourth to take a 7-3 lead, Jed Lowrie capping the rally with a two-run home run to right field, his 18th.
Marcus Semien had three hits and drove in a run, Lowrie also doubled and scored in the first inning, and Nick Martini and Matt Olson each had two hits and a run batted in to help the A’s, who have won 36 of 48 games since June 16, move to within 2½ games of first-place Houston in the American League West.
After Tyler Skaggs lasted only 3 1/3 innings Saturday, the Angels, who have three healthy starting pitchers on the roster, needed 14 2/3 innings from their relievers over the weekend.
“It becomes more of a who’s fresh game than a matchup game,” Scioscia said. “We try to line them up the best we can, but it’s just not as efficient as when you have the functionality of starting pitchers who can get you to a certain point in the game. We don’t have that in our rotation right now, so we have to adapt.”
Skaggs returns to DL
Skaggs, who was roughed up for seven earned runs and 10 hits in 3 1/3 innings of Saturday night’s 7-0 loss, was put on the 10-day disabled list because of a left groin strain, the same injury that sidelined the left-hander for the first 10 days of August.
“It was definitely sore,” Skaggs said. “By the fourth inning, I felt like I was lobbing balls in there, and you can’t be doing that in the big leagues. … I don’t think it’s serious enough to miss the rest of the season, but it’s definitely something I need to give the proper time to heal.”
Skaggs was replaced on the roster by Paredes, the first player in the last 25 years to be recalled at least 10 times in one season.