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Elephant Rumblings: Luis Medina shows potential despite opener slip-up

News and notes from Friday’s MLB action

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Oakland Athletics v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

The Oakland Athletics began utilizing an opener at the end of May in hopes that it would help some of the team’s young starters. The strategy isn’t always popular especially among traditional baseball fans, but can be effective when managed correctly. Friday’s game should be used as an example of how not to use an opener.

Sam Long started and worked around a single in a scoreless first. He returned to start the second and gave up back-to-back singles. The first hit probably should have been a red flag. I can’t fault Mark Kotsay for trying to bleed another inning from Long with two left-handed hitters among the first three. Still, he might have wanted to get another reliever up and ready at the first sign of trouble. Long walked Triston Casas after getting ahead 0-2 to load the bases. Instead of going to another reliever, Kotsay went with the designated bulk guy, rookie Luis Medina with the bases loaded and no outs. The same Medina that had issued 12 walks in his last two starts combined.

Kotsay said after the game that using the opener was about building confidence for a young pitching staff. Well by the time the smoke cleared in the second, five runs had scored. Nothing like a five-run inning to build confidence for a young starter. Credit Medina for settling down and giving the A’s six innings and a career-best nine strikeouts.

There is nothing wrong with the opener strategy, but the A’s execution has been severely lacking.

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Other than Medina’s nine strikeouts, Seth Brown supplied the A’s other highlight from Friday’s loss.