On Tuesday, Dan Straily will attempt to accomplish a feat that has behooved the likes of such pitching luminaries as Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito during their time in the green and gold. Since the advent of the American League Divisional Series, the Athletics have watched as their best and brightest arms have failed to answer the call, and win that elusive series clinching game. In fact, the only member of the famed pitching pantheon to emerge victorious in such a game was Dan Haren, whom sealed the Athletics decisive 3-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins in 2006. To be fair, many of these losing efforts were not the fault of the starting pitcher. Bullpen breakdowns, offensive futility, and an distinct aversion to sliding at home, all contributed to that same confused and heartbroken feeling that accompanied the arrival on an early winter. Whatever the cause was, the end result was the same.
Now, Dan Straily seeks to join Haren as an exception to the norm.
In a series that up until Monday was dominated by pitching, Straily will be next in line for a turn against a suddenly vulnerable Tigers lineup. A consortium of hitters who have scored in only 2 out of 27 innings in three games against Athletics pitching, and enter an elimination game with a series batting line of .219/.265/.250 having totaled just 3 extra base hits.
A Detroit lineup running on fumes, resorting to foolish attempts of intimidation and shenanigans to awake their dormant offense and create a spark without fire. Their results have failed miserably, and Straily will have the opportunity to apply the final deathblow. With Miguel Cabrera licking his wounds, and Tori Hunter reportedly nursing a shoulder injury after yet another ill-advised outfield dive, there is no better time to strike.
So go forth young Dan Straily, locate your four-seamer, bury your sinker, and utilize your swing-and-miss slider like never before. With the harbinger of Max Scherzer waiting for a potential Game 5, the fate of an ALCS visit may rest in your hands. So no pressure, kid. Have fun.