Bip Roberts: 'Things are starting to fall in place for the A's'
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Brett Anderson said his arm felt good after his final tuneup before taking the mound on Opening Day. He had his typical dry humor working too, as he assessed his five and one-third inning performance.
"It was alright," Anderson said. "My breaking ball was kind of nonexistent, which is tough when you throw quite a few of them."
The lefty allowed three runs -- two earned -- on six hits in the A's 7-6 win over the Indians. He struck out one batter and walked one.
"To get up six times and throw some good fastballs and change ups, get some ground balls like I'm accustomed to, it was good," Anderson said. "Get ready to get up in the bay, get some humidity and maybe my breaking ball will be better."
Considering he didn't have his best "stuff," he appears primed to lead the rotation. Based on his track record, giving him the Opening Day nod wasn't a tough decision for the A's to make.
"It really wasn't at all," Melvin said. "We knew coming into camp that there was an excellent chance, even before he got on the field, that he'd be our Opening Day starter."
Anderson was 4-2 with a 2.75 ERA last season and threw six shutout innings against the Tigers to keep the A's alive in the American League Division Series. After accumulating a 6.75 ERA this spring, he's ready to get out of the desert and onto the mound in Oakland to throw the first pitch of the A's season.
"It'll hit me as it gets closer and closer," Anderson said. "Obviously it's an honor to be able to be the guy to go out there and lead the team in the first start. It's going to be exciting. I'm excited for the crowd, hopefully it's kind of what it was in the playoffs last year."
The A's two Australian relievers had two very different days. Closer Grant Balfour tossed another scoreless inning as he continues to recover from his right knee surgery. He retired the side in the seventh inning with 15 pitches.
In three one-inning appearances this spring, Balfour hasn't given up a hit.
Travis Blackley can't seem to miss the bat lately. He has a 14.21 ERA this spring. On Tuesday, he allowed three runs on four hits in two innings.
"He's a guy that we're trying to make a decision on," Melvin said. "Those are the situations you evaluate closely."
Blackley was a key component to the A's 2012 playoff run and serves as their long reliever. On June 21, the Australian lefty out-dueled Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers in an eight inning one-run performance. On the second to last day of the season, Blackley kept the A's American League West hopes alive by holding the Rangers to one run over six innings in a pivotal start.
He loses either of those games and the A's don't win the West. Now he's hoping he doesn't lose a roster spot based on some bad spring stats.
"It's very frustrating, don't get me wrong," Blackley said. "I want to start seeing zeroes but I feel like I'm pitching better than I ever have. Everything is working. I don't remember the last time I had all four pitches working every day."
Yoenis Cespedes hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning. He pulled the ball to left-center field. It was his fifth home run of the spring.
Nate Freiman went 0 for 1 with a run. He was hit by a pitch in the 10th inning. With Adam Rosales hitting the 15-day disabled list, and Hiro Nakajima leaving the game with a left hamstring injury, the odds the six-foot-eight first baseman cracks the 25-man roster are starting to improve dramatically.
"We like what we've seen so far and he wouldn't be here if we didn't think he had a good chance to make the team," Melvin said.
Freiman was selected by the Astros from the Padres in the Rule-5 draft. If he doesn't make the A's 25-man roster he gets sent back to San Diego.