A's look for the 'big hit' vs. Pineiro, Angels

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A's look for the 'big hit' vs. Pineiro, Angels

May 16, 2011
LA ANGELS (22-19) vs.
A's (20-20)

Coverage begins at 6:30 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet California

OAKLAND (AP) -- Joel Pineiro has been pitching well for the Los Angeles Angels since coming off the disabled list. Facing the Oakland Athletics gives him a good opportunity to continue that.

Pineiro gets the ball for the Angels on Monday when they open a two-game set in Oakland.

A sore shoulder caused Pineiro (2-0, 1.33 ERA) to miss the first month of the season, debuting against Tampa Bay on April 30. He's looked fully healthy since his return, giving up three runs and 15 hits in his first 20 1-3 innings.

The right-hander allowed two runs in 7 2-3 innings of a 6-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.

"Joel mixed up his pitches, changed speeds, pitched well," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He really has four pitches he can use, and when he mixed them up, he can be effective."

Pineiro went 1-0 with a 1.57 ERA in three starts against the Athletics (20-20) last year. The Angels (22-19) won all three.

Los Angeles dropped two of three at Texas over the weekend, closing the set with a 5-4 loss Sunday. The Angels stranded 11 baserunners, finishing the weekend 3 for 31 with men in scoring position.

"We didn't do enough," Scioscia said. "We have to pick up the pieces of that game. ... It's no barometer of things to come. We know what we need to clean up and do better."

The Los Angeles bullpen has also been shaky, blowing three saves in five chances and posting a 7.36 ERA over the last seven games.

Timely hitting has been a problem all season for the Athletics, who have scored three runs or fewer in eight of their last 11. They lost two of three to Chicago over the weekend, including a 4-3 defeat Sunday.

Trevor Cahill suffered his first loss of the season and Oakland stranded 10 on base.

"The big hit, when we needed it, eluded us," manager Bob Geren said.

REWIND: White Sox tags A's Cahill with first loss

Coco Crisp is batting .167 in his last 10 games, but had three hits in the final two games of the weekend series, including a home run Sunday.

On Monday, the Athletics will hand the ball to Brett Anderson (2-3, 3.21), who will take his fifth crack at defeating the Angels. The left-hander is 0-2 with a 4.68 ERA in four career starts versus Los Angeles.

Anderson surrendered four runs, six hits and four walks in 4 2-3 innings of a 7-2 loss to Texas on Tuesday. It was the second time in three starts Anderson gave up at least four runs - both against the Rangers. He has a 1.65 ERA in his other six starts.

Erick Aybar, who is 0 for 7 against Anderson, is looking to extend a 13-game hitting streak during which he's batting .373. He went 3 for 11 in last month's series versus the A's.

The Angels won two of three in that set but dropped six of 10 in Oakland last season, scoring two runs or fewer six times.

Sharks' Vlasic out of the lineup again

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Sharks' Vlasic out of the lineup again

NASHVILLE – Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic is out of the lineup again.

The defenseman, who didn’t play on Tuesday in Minnesota with the flu and took just one shift in the third period on Friday in Dallas, was scratched for Saturday’s road trip finale against the Predators. The team stated Saturday’s absence was due to his being sick, although it should be noted he was spotted leaving the dressing room on Friday in Dallas not walking completely right.

The Sharks were 2-3-1 in games Vlasic missed this season entering Saturday night. 

Chris Tierney was also scratched, and is day-to-day with an upper body injury. Is was just the second game he has missed this season.

Dylan DeMelo drew into the lineup for Vlasic, while Timo Meier got back in on the fourth line with Micheal Haley and Marcus Sorensen.

Melker Karlsson (lower body) remains out.

Madson focused on his pitching, not his role in A's bullpen

Madson focused on his pitching, not his role in A's bullpen

MESA, Ariz. — Ryan Madson goes about his business getting ready for the season, without much clarity on what his bullpen role will be and hardly wringing his hands over the mystery.

A’s manager Bob Melvin has four veteran relievers with closer experience to choose from to be his ninth-inning man. He said Saturday morning he likely won’t announce that decision until the Bay Bridge Series that leads into Opening Day.

Madson, who rang up 30 saves as Oakland’s primary closer last season, prepares the same during the spring regardless of what inning he might pitch. He sees the numerous closer options as being a benefit for whoever ultimately gets picked for the ninth.

“If I’m doing it and I don’t get it done, there’s guys that will,” Madson said. “It’s not just a one-man show, so that takes the pressure off actually. People would think maybe it adds pressure — you gotta do good so you can have it. To me, it does the exact opposite. That helps me, knowing the more guys you’ve got that can do the job, the easier that job becomes.”

It wouldn’t be a shock if Melvin goes with the 36-year-old Madson as closer to begin the season. He’s the incumbent, and, though he had a 7.50 spring ERA before throwing a scoreless inning Saturday, no one among the trio of John Axford, Santiago Casilla and Sean Doolittle has made an emphatic statement for the job with their Cactus League performance. Axford’s 5.06 ERA is the lowest of those four.

From his comments so far this spring, Melvin seems inclined to use Ryan Dull as an escape artist to enter with men on base, a situation that he excelled in last season.

Regardless of how Melvin lines up his bullpen for the regular season, he’s said that he’s likely to utilize multiple guys in save situations depending on who’s available and who needs rest on a given day.

At this time last year, Madson was assumed to be the eighth-inning setup man with Doolittle handling closer duties. Melvin wound up flip-flopping them for the start of the regular season, and Madson got off to a strong start and remained the closer for most of the year. In his first extended ninth-inning duty since 2011, he notched his second 30-save season but also had seven blown saves, tied for second most in the American League.

“The emotions are different” in the ninth inning, Madson said. “They’re heightened, and so I had to adjust that way. … As long as I can navigate those emotions and put them in the right place, I usually do well when I can do that.”

Entering the second year of a three-year, $22 million contract, Madson said he likes the way he’s rounding into form on the mound despite less-than-glittering numbers.

“When I have good angle on the ball, good deception and good movement, then I get outs and I get ground balls,” he said. “I get strikeouts with the changeup. So if I focus on that, everything else falls in where it needs to.”