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Oakland Athletics: Paul Blackburn’s pitch count up to 90 for second start back

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Paul Blackburn, seen here last July, wasn’t able to get through the fifth on Friday. (Stan Olszewski/Special to S.F. Examiner)

OAKLAND — The Houston Astros have a stacked team — they’re the reigning World Series champions, after all — and that’s something Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin is well aware of.

Even with third baseman Alex Bregman getting tonight off, Melvin noted that Marwin González — nearly an All-Star last season — will be playing in Bregman’s stead.

“Their rotation, their bullpen, their lineup, they can run, they hit power — they do it all,” Melvin said. “Not only do they have a significant lineup, but they have everything around it. Matchups, pinch-hitting, the whole bit. It’s an impressive club, so we know we have to play our best to beat them.”

Both players have gotten off to slow starts. Bregman hit .284 last year with 19 home runs, but is hitting .266 so far in 2018. Gonzalez — who hit .303 a year ago with 23 home runs and 34 doubles — is hitting just .235 in 60 games this season, with only 15 extra-bases.

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A’s starter Paul Blackburn — starting his second game since returning from injury — will be at about 90 pitches tonight, according to Melvin. In his last start out (his first this year after dealing with a forearm strain), Blackburn tossed a gem: 67 pitches in six innings and one run on three hits.

“As economical as he was last time, that means he’s probably at eight innings,” Melvin said.

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Things still aren’t looking that good for pitcher Trevor Cahill, who was scratched from Saturday’s scheduled start against the Kansas City Royals with and Achilles injury. Melvin said that they’ll make a decision tomorrow regarding whether Cahill will be put on the disabled list.

Cahill has been in a boot to mobilize the injury and keep it stable so as not to worsen the injury.

“It’s tough to pitch in those,” Melvin said. “I don’t know that we’re going to put some spikes on that.”

Chris Bassitt — who was sent down on June 10 — would likely come back up. On June 9, in his first Major League appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery on May 6, 2016, he took the loss, despite allowing just one run on three hits in seven innings. He’s been up and down three times this season.

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Injured starter Brett Anderson (left shoulder strain) threw off the mound for the first time — all fastballs, according to Melvin, who said Anderson “looked pretty good.” Andrew Triggs is a little further along.

“He threw 20 and 20 and sat down through 20, so he’ll take three days off, pitch Saturday in an extended 60,” Melvin said. “Hopefully he gets to throw those and we get him a Nashville stint and then, hopefully, have him back pretty soon.”

Melvin is excited about getting reliever Ryan Buchter back, who, pitched a scoreless inning during his rehab assignment on Monday for the High-A Stockton Ports. He’ll pitch again in Stockton on Thursday and then, at some point, head to Triple-A Nashville for a few games.

“He adds another late-inning piece that we pitch typically in games that we’re either tied or ahead in,” Melvin said. “Buchter is a guy that we traded for for a reason. And that was a late-inning left-handed reliever.”

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