Surprising? Well, one may say that before the postseason began, it would be Bartolo Colon and Justin Verlander going head-to-head in a very crucial game. This isn’t the case, however. The Oakland Athletics have discovered a young and budding talent in rookie Sonny Gray.
In Game 2 of the series, Gray went head-to-head with Verlander, and was able to grab the win. He pitched eight scoreless innings.
While the Tigers were set on Verlander pitching (how could they not be?), the A’s were struggling between Colon and Gray, and A’s manager Bob Melvin eventually made the decision. In a conference call, he said:
We had two great options, we looked at it at a bunch of different angles. The short of it is that it came down to the game that Sonny just pitched.
Gray has come a long way since being called up from the minors. He’s going to be pitching in one of the biggest games of his life on Thursday, and why not? He deserves it after that stunning performance in Game 2. The A’s may be taking a risk starting a rookie over an All-Star, but Melvin thinks that Gray can handle the pressure, and that the A’s have a good shot. Gray has a 5-3 record on the year in 10 starts, as well as a 2.67 ERA.
The A’s said that they weren’t going to dwell on the heartbreaking Game 4 loss, but now, they find themselves in the exact same position as last year: facing Verlander in a Game 5 do-0r-die game. This time, however, they would obviously like things to play out a little bit differently.
If Gray can do his part as the great pitcher that he can be, then the A’s will only need to focus on beating Verlander. Not an easy task, but as they proved in Game 2, it’s doable.