Blanton looks to give the Athletics quality innings Wednesday as they play the third contest of their four-game series with the Kansas City Royals at McAfee Coliseum.
Street, who went on the disabled list Tuesday with nerve irritation in his right elbow, is scheduled to be examined by Los Angeles Angels orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yocum and get a second MRI on Wednesday. The Oakland closer has a 2.50 ERA in 18 relief appearances this season, converting nine of his 11 save opportunities.
“The nerve is acting up,” said the 2005 AL Rookie of the Year, whose initial MRI exam showed no structural damage. “It happens. It’s basically tendinitis in your arm. This is a first for me. I’ve never had anything lasting. As a pitcher, you have numbness and tingling and it goes away. This has been a week.”
Justin Duchscherer will assume the A’s primary closer job, but he wasn’t available Tuesday due to an arthritic right hip. Relievers Alan Embree and Jay Witasick gave up three runs in the ninth to force extra innings, but Dan Johnson got them off the hook with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 11th to lift Oakland to a 5-4 win.
Johnson’s shot plated Shannon Stewart, who narrowly missed getting tagged out at home.
“I was fortunate to get it just deep enough,” said Johnson, who is batting .411 (23-for-56) during a 15-game hitting streak with four homers, five doubles and 13 RBIs. “Stew, as fast as he is, he got in there. It was the perfect throw and the catcher made an unbelievable catch.”
The A’s (20-18) hope they won’t have to resort to extra-inning heroics with Blanton (4-1, 3.48 ERA) on the mound. The right-hander has allowed four earned runs through 14 1-3 innings for back-to-back wins, while walking just two and striking out 11.
He retired 15 of the first 16 batters he faced Friday and took a shutout into the sixth inning. Blanton went seven-plus innings, allowing two runs and five hits in an 8-2 win over Cleveland.
“My fastball and sinker have been my best pitches and I’ve been able to locate them,” said Blanton, who didn’t walk a batter and struck out five. “That’s allowed me to get ahead of hitters. I feel confident going at hitters.”
Blanton has reason to be confident versus the Royals, against whom he is 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in five career starts. In two home starts against Kansas City, Blanton has scattered just 10 hits and no runs through 16 innings.
The Royals (13-27) missed a chance at their first three-game winning streak of the season Tuesday despite Tony Pena Jr.’s two-run triple in the ninth. The Kansas City shortstop had a career-high four hits, and has at least one base hit in each of his last four meetings with Oakland.
“We got a big hit from Tony, but we couldn’t execute later in the game,” Royals manager Buddy Bell said.
Odalis Perez (2-4, 6.05) tries to avoid losing his third straight decision when he takes the mound for Kansas City. The left-hander pitched well enough to win his last start, scattering two runs and five hits over a season-high seven innings, but didn’t get any support in a 2-1 defeat to the Chicago White Sox on Friday.
Perez, who has lasted at least six innings in his last four starts, has made one relief appearance against the A’s, holding them to five hits over four scoreless innings.