Trio of relievers could be tapped for closing duties 

click to enlarge Middle man no more: Ryan Cook, who has not allowed a run in 23 of his 24 outings, could be called upon to close out a game as the A’s seek a full-time closing solution. - US PRESSWIRE FILE PHOTO
  • us presswire file photo
  • Middle man no more: Ryan Cook, who has not allowed a run in 23 of his 24 outings, could be called upon to close out a game as the A’s seek a full-time closing solution.

The A’s have gone to the dreaded “closer by committee.”

Grant Balfour could not hang on to the full-time closer’s role, and neither could Brian Fuentes, and after Fuentes allowed a walkoff homer Friday for the second time in four appearances, manager Bob Melvin decided to go with a group effort.

Rookie Ryan Cook, the A’s most reliable reliever all season, will join the mix, along with Fuentes and Balfour, and Melvin said he will factor in availability and matchups.

Asked if he had considered just going with Cook, who has not allowed a run in 23 of his 24 outings, Melvin said he might need Cook in tough situations in the eighth inning, too.

Essentially, that means that Cook will work in the most high-leverage situations, whether in the eighth or the ninth, and Balfour and Fuentes will get their share of saves in bases-empty ninth-inning situations.

Fuentes, however, became the first A’s closer in 15 years to blow a save with two outs, the bases empty and a two-run lead on Friday. And Balfour has pitched better lately, with a 1.88 ERA over his past 14 games.

The A’s did not need a closer on Sunday in a 4-3 loss at Arizona, where the team dropped all three games.

NOTES: Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has been sidelined since coming out of Thursday’s game in the first inning with a left hamstring strain. Cespedes is available to pinch-hit, but the A’s have preferred to be cautious with the rookie, who has hits in his past six plate appearances. The A’s are 19-16 with Cespedes in the lineup and 7-19 without him. ... Manny Ramirez went 1-for-6 with a single and an RBI on Saturday with Triple-A Sacramento, and Sunday he was 1-for-4 with a double and three RBIs, his second extra-base hit with the River Cats. It remains unclear when or if the A’s will call up
Ramirez.

— The Sports Xchange via Reuters

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