Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
On Tuesday night, Jerry Blevins pulled a Houdini act for the ages. Inheriting a complete utter mess, Blevins was asked to pull a miracle with the Angels threatening to pull of a stunning victory in the bottom of the ninth. As he took over for beleaguered closer Grant Balfour, the situation was daunting at best. With two runs in, and the tying and winning runs at the corners, Blevins was forced into the most dire situation of his career. With the crowd in a frenzy, he set forth to accomplish perhaps the most impressive act of relief pitching the A’s have witnessed all year. Facing noted walk- off hero and current anti-celebration advocate Kendry Morales, Blevins aggressively went after the switch hitter and successfully retired him via strikeout in four pitches. Following Morales, came noted line drive enthusiast Howie Kendrick. At this point, with the Angels fans still at a fever pitch despite the Morales strikeout, Blevins reached a whole new level of focus and determination. With a 1-2 count, Blevins came in hard on the hands of Kendrick with a fastball that was sharply bounced to third basemen Josh Donaldson. One strong throw to second for the force, followed by a Cliff Pennington relay throw to first and just like that the game was over. The Oakland A’s and Jerry Blevins were victorious. It was magical, and the longest tenured Athletic had cemented himself in the hearts and memories of A’s fans everywhere.
In some ways, Blevins’s outing is emblematic of the amazing and unexpected success of the 2012 Athletics. Like his team, he spent much of the past five seasons mired in obscurity, accomplishing very little of note on the field. Last season for instance, Blevins endured an up and down season. Literally. Up and down from Oakland to Sacramento an absurd six times. Thanks largely, to a strong performance during the second half of 2011. He was able to showcase himself as an effective lefty reliever under new manager Bob Melvin, helping to force himself into the bullpen picture for 2012.
Early on in the 2012 season, I took it upon myself to start a Twitter hashtag movement each and everytime Blevins had a successful outing. Upon recording a key out I would tweet #believeinblevins as a play on his last name and to drum up support for the lefty. As the gangly southpaw, racked up one solid outing after another I continued tweeting in hopes of bringing a degree of recognition to his name. So far the numbers would support my claim. Blevins has elevated himself up the relief totem pole pitching to a 2.51 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and holding left handed hitters to a .182 Batting Average. As he showed Tuesday night, Blevins has made it very easy for us to believe.