OAKLAND -- Seeking sustained success, the A's will soon be tested with a stretch that features a game on 20 consecutive days without an off-day -- 13 of those games will be against postseason hopefuls.
Following Thursday's off-day, the A's will play host to the Astros for a three-game series that could alter the American League West standings. From there, they get a week's worth of games against non-contenders -- three with Texas and four in Minnesota -- only to buckle down for matchups with Houston, Seattle and New York.
"It is a challenge, and you look at the way the off-days are structured this year, and you get three off in eight days and then [play] 20 in a row," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "You'd like to see them spread out a little bit, but we knew coming in, looking at the schedule this year, that this would be the one significant stretch that we have.
"We're going to have to be mindful of trying to get our starters to go a little bit farther and trying to back off on some of the bullpen guys."
The A's bullpen is mighty, but Melvin will be tasked with deploying his relievers carefully to ensure a couple of them are readily available on any given day.
In Tuesday's win, that meant no more than two outs from Ryan Buchter and Yusmeiro Petit and one inning from Fernando Rodney ahead of closer Blake Treinen's third appearance in as many days. In turn, Jeurys Familia and Lou Trivino were afforded rest.
"They've acclimated beautifully," Melvin said. "It's easy to say you have a deep bullpen and you can just keep running guys out there, but we're coming up on a stretch of 20 in a row. We're going to have to stagger these guys, and it kind of started last night."
Treinen's durability has been crucial; the right-hander has worked 61 innings, fifth most in the AL, all the while maintaining the Majors' best ERA among relievers: 0.89.
"A lot of teams now stay away from three-in-a-rows, but he's the most durable arm we have down there," Melvin said. "I think we've only done it maybe twice with him this year, but you look at the scoreboard and the velocity is the same, the movement is the same, and I think that has a lot to do with him being a starter early in his career. He wants the ball, he wants to go multiple days in a row and it's not like there's any back-off in stuff."