By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – As he sat in front of a bright red ALDS background banner Monday morning in the bowels of the Detroit Tigers stadium, 24-year-old Oakland A’s starting pitcher Dan Straily did not look intimidated – not in the least.
In fact, he seems to relish his team’s opportunity to go head-to-head with one of the best starting rotations in baseball.
Straily even thinks he and his teammates match up against Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and the others pretty darn well.
“We come in here and we’re a very confident group,” Straily said. “Just because everyone hasn’t heard of us doesn’t mean that we don’t belong here, that we aren’t good enough to be here. We all know what we can do individually and accomplish as a group as well.”
So far, the achievements have been impressive. In the first three games of the series – which Oakland can clinch by winning Tuesday – the A’s have handled the Tigers’ vaunted offense, allowing three runs in game one, shutting Detroit out in game two and allowing three runs in game three. In both games one and three, all the Tigers’ scoring came in a single inning.
Long story short, Straily and his teammates have reason to be a little cocky. The A’s pitching staff has completely stymied the dangerous Detroit offense in 25 of 27 innings in the series.
“It shows our game plan, our approach, is working,” Straily said. “Maybe we won’t get the same results because each game is different, but we will go out there and stick to our game plan.”
Saturday night’s shutout came at the hands of Sonny Gray, a rookie who has started just 10 games this season.
As the game four starter, Straily has the advantage of watching his fellow pitchers attack the Tigers’ hitters for three games in a row before Straily faces them. He picked up several notes from the first two games.
“Good things happen when you get the ball down,” Straily said simply. “That’s good, basic stuff. Sonny told me the other day, first couple of innings you find yourself pretty jacked up. After that, you’ve got to find a way to keep pitching, and he was able to do that.
“The whole game was game adjustments, and game adjustments is the way you win and lose ball games. I feel like not so much adjustments but stick to what we have been doing because it seems to be working.”
Like all the pitchers on the Oakland staff, Straily will meet with the team’s pitching coach and catcher to finalize the game plan after watching video and checking scouting reports. Of course, he has his own routine too.
“I watch video, information packets and stuff that we have available to us,” Straily said. “I check those out. But at the same time, now that I’ve faced these guys, I can go back and see what I did against them and give myself a better game plan.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin said that preparation differs between pitchers based on whether the plan involves attacking a batter’s weaknesses or using the hurler’s strengths. For Straily, it is the latter.
“It’s more with his strengths,” Melvin said. “Trying to get ahead. He’s got a good slider and being able to get himself into counts where he can use the slider.”