PHOENIX -- All those walk-off wins. All those pie-in-the-face celebrations.

The A's had 14 walk-off wins last season, plus one in the playoffs, and not one pitcher got a pie in the face.

"I was talking with Ryan (Cook). We both got our first big league saves last year, and there were no pies for us," Sean Doolittle said Thursday in mock ire. "What's a pitcher got to do to get a pie? What about us?"

The pies were reserved for the hitters. Never mind that a pitcher getting the final out of a game is just as important.

Doolittle only had one save, but what a save it was. On July 21, pitching against the Yankees in Oakland and trying to protect a 2-1, the left-hander gave up a single to Alex Rodriguez, then struck out Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and Andruw Jones.

Oakland Athletics pitcher Sean Doolittle (62) pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the sixth inning of their Cactus League game at Phoenix Municipal
Oakland Athletics pitcher Sean Doolittle (62) pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the sixth inning of their Cactus League game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in Phoenix, Ariz., on Friday, March 1, 2013. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Staff)

Not bad for a one-time first baseman who had only 17 professional games on the mound before being promoted to Oakland.

The right-handed Cook had more experience, but starting the season with 23 consecutive scoreless innings went above and beyond what was expected. He wound up being the only A's player on the American League all-star team, saved 14 games and had a 6-2 record.

While Cook and Doolittle didn't earn any pies, their contributions to the A's playoffs run were huge.

Manager Bob Melvin is looking for more of the same this year.

"These are guys you can bring into any situation in the seventh or eighth, or in the ninth, if needed," Melvin said. "They are equally good against left-handers or right-handers. It gives us a great deal of confidence knowing we have them out there."


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Cook said he owes much of his success to his dad, Chuck, who races and maintains racing cars.

"I expect a lot of myself because he expected a lot of me," Cook said. "If I wasn't going to do it right, do it his way, I was a nuisance. I didn't want to be that. So I became careful to get all the nuts and bolts right."

Doolittle didn't start pitching until the end of the 2011 season, after a series of knee injuries limited him to 28 games in 2009 and kept him sidelined for the entire 2010 campaign.

Now he and Cook are a tough tandem on the field and buddies off it.

Cook even introduced Doolittle to sprint-car racing, and he thinks he has a convert.

"I think he fell in love with it," Cook said.

Doolittle won't go that far, but he met with sprint racer Bryan Clauson, a childhood friend of Cook's, and Clauson explained the intricacies of the sport.

"It took me into a different world and out of my comfort zone," Doolittle said. "All I knew about racing was NASCAR on X-Box. It was great. I could get into it."

Having gone from a struggling minor league first baseman to left-handed setup ace, Doolittle seems not to mind getting out of his comfort zone.

But he would like some pie.

The Oakland Athletics’ Ryan Cook (48) reacts to striking out the Texas Rangers’ Mike Napoli (25) for the final out with two runners in scoring
The Oakland Athletics' Ryan Cook (48) reacts to striking out the Texas Rangers' Mike Napoli (25) for the final out with two runners in scoring position in the seventh inning of their winner-take-all game played at the O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012. (Dan Honda/Staff)

  • Closer Grant Balfour pitched a one-two-three sixth inning Thursday as the A's beat Cincinnati 10-9. Balfour, who is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, worked early to face big-league hitters. He motored through the sixth, retiring Devin Mesoraco, Derrick Robinson and Emmanuel Burris on nine pitches.

    "I was really happy with the way I threw," Balfour said after hitting 94 mph on the radar gun.

  • Opening day starter Brett Anderson was roughed up for six earned runs in 42/3 innings.

    "The results weren't awesome, but I got in my pitches and I worked on some things," said Anderson. "I threw some pitches I wouldn't normally throw in a regular season game, and some of them got hit."

    That would be the change-up, which Anderson would like to add to the fastball, curve and slider.

    "The change is a work in progress," he said. "I got a couple of ground balls with it. And it got hit hard a couple of times."

  • Catcher Derek Norris continues to crush the ball. He raised his average to .379 with a single and two-run homer. Josh Donaldson singled, doubled and drove in two runs, getting his average to .205.

  • Lefty Travis Blackley gave up three runs in three innings but picked up the save. He continues to struggle, however, with a 14.34 ERA.

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