4/16/2014 9:34 P.M. ET
Johnson finding form since 'break' from closing
By Earl Bloom / Special to MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- A's right-hander Jim Johnson is still on "a break" from closing, but the man who saved 101 games the past two seasons for the Orioles seems headed in the right direction again after picking up victories over the Angels in the first two games of the series at Angel Stadium.
In his past three outings -- since manager Bob Melvin announced Johnson's "break" -- he has retired 15 of 18 batters faced and pitched five shutout innings.
"I'm just making some better pitches," Johnson said before Wednesday's series finale. "I don't want to turn this into Jim Johnson Watch."
Melvin's watching, though, and says he likes what he sees..
"I think the two-inning outing he had [Friday at Minnesota] was good for him," the manager said.
Johnson had another of those Tuesday, pitching the 10th and 11th innings of a 10-9 victory. The A's had no one else they wanted to use after him, except in an emergency.
"[Melvin] never said that," Johnson said, when asked about being the last reliever standing. "I kind of figured it out."
Johnson said if the Angels would've tied it, "I would have done what I had I had to do ... .it's been a while since I threw three innings."
Melvin said Tuesday's two innings by Johnson "showed what he is," because he had to come into a tie, then in essence save the victory for himself the next inning.
When Johnson's missing now, "he's missing down in the zone with the sinker, not up in the zone," Melvin said.
Kazmir set for next start, Saturday vs. Astros
ANAHEIM -- A's left-hander Scott Kazmir threw his normal bullpen session Wednesday afternoon at Angel Stadium.
He pronounced himself "100 percent" for his next start, Saturday at home against the Houston Astros.
Kazmir (2-0, 1.40 ERA in three starts) experienced triceps tendinitis Sunday after six shutout innings at Minnesota. It was something he also dealt with in Spring Training.
"It was great," Kazmir said of his bullpen session. "I threw off flat ground, but that's something I normally do. I threw all my pitches.
"Bottom line, I think it's the best I've felt all year."
The entire A's rotation will pick up an extra day of rest from Thursday's off-day.
A's claim righty Walden off waivers from Blue Jays
ANAHEIM -- The A's on Wednesday claimed right-hander Marcus Walden off waivers from the Blue Jays, then optioned him to Triple-A Sacramento.
Walden, 25, was 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in three relief outings for Triple-A Buffalo. Last year, Walden made 26 starts for Double-A New Hampshire and went 6-14 with a 3.71 ERA.
Walden, who's from Fresno, Calif., was a ninth-round Draft pick by Toronto in 2007. He has gone 32-33 with a 3.73 ERA in 114 appearances, including 90 starts, in seven professional seasons.
• Coco Crisp (hamstring) did not start in center field for the third game in a row. He pinch-hit Tuesday, and was likely available in that role again Wednesday, manager Bob Melvin said. Melvin added he wanted to give Crisp two more days with the off-day Thursday.
"I don't want to push that," the manager said. "We need him the whole season."
• Right-hander Luke Gregerson and left-hander Fernando Abad, who Melvin didn't use Tuesday to prevent overuse, were available out of the bullpen Wednesday. Gregerson had pitched in three consecutive games, and Abad, who Melvin said "is up all the time," had warmed up three different times Monday night.
"[Abad] will never say anything, but you want to make sure you're not overdoing it down there," Melvin said, adding that both Abad and Gregerson lobbied to pitch Tuesday.
Earl Bloom is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.