Sean Burnett was not dealing with a blister, in his mind or on the middle finger of his left hand.
Mike Scioscia seemed to disagree when he left right-hander Kevin Jepsen in to face A’s lefties John Jaso and Brandon Moss in the seventh inning with the southpaw Burnett available out of the bullpen. “Jeppy was the guy to get out of that inning,” Scioscia said, before mentioning Burnett’s blister.
Burnett said that there was no blister. Ever.
“It was more my nail came out of the bed” three days ago in Texas, he said. “It was a one-day thing. It happens all the time with my breaking ball … I was 100 percent.”
Burnett pitched Tuesday. He seemed healthy. He faced four batters in a scoreless eighth inning. Scioscia simply chose to save Burnett for the start of the eighth inning rather than the two-on, two-out situation in the seventh, citing the blister. It proved to be the wrong call.
Whether you attribute the Angels’ 9-5 loss to the Oakland A’s on Tuesday to Scioscia leaving in Jepsen too long, or to Jepsen for allowing two homers in the seventh inning, may be a matter of degrees. Six of one, half a dozen of another, there are still issues in the Angels bullpen. Right?
Maybe. It’s dissatisfying either way. Hindsight won’t change the fact that Jepsen stayed in and Jaso promptly plopped a three-run home run atop the padded short fence in right field. Two batters later, Moss belted a Jepsen fastball farther off in the distance in the right-field bleachers.
“I was trying to go away,” Jepsen said of the two fastballs. “They kept going back over the middle of the plate.”
Just as frustrating to Jepsen was his fifth pitch to the batter before Jaso, Yoenis Cespedes:
Home plate umpire Mike Muchlinksi called it a ball, inside. “It would’ve made my day a whole lot better if he would’ve called it” a strike, Jepsen said. Instead, the count went to 3-2 and Cespedes drew a walk on the sixth pitch of the at-bat.
At that point, with a deeper bullpen, maybe the Angels could have called on Burnett to get Jaso, knowing light-hitting righty Josh Donaldson was on deck and the left-handed Moss was in the hole. Then someone else pitches the eighth and/or ninth innings.
But theirs is not a deep bullpen, blister or no blister.
“We’ll have to go back to the drawing board,” Scioscia said, “and get this bullpen where it needs to be.”
A couple more notes:
• Erick Aybar was still limping in the clubhouse after the game, having left in the third inning with a bruised heel. He is day to day.
• C.J. Wilson said his issue in the first inning was mechanical, not mental (he allowed three singles and three walks with two outs and seemed to be struggling to find Michlinski’s strike zone). “I was trying to overthrow the ball down,” he said. “I was trying so hard to throw the ball I got forward too much.” Wilson adjusted in the seventh inning by keeping his weight further back. He said he’s never had the issue before.