No one had to sketch out the situation for Dan Straily.
The A’s bullpen was hurting from overwork and closer Grant Balfour was going to need a day off.
Straily needed to get deep into the game for the A’s to have a decent chance to win.
The right-hander had not even made it to the fifth inning in any of his previous three starts, but this time was different.
He took a 1-0 lead before throwing a pitch thanks to Chris Young’s leadoff homer in the first and nursed it into the eighth inning before a little bad luck saw the game tied. And while the A’s would score four times to win in the ninth, the win went to reliever Ryan Cook.
“It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get him the win, because he really deserved it,’’ catcher Stephen Vogt said. “He put us in position to win, really kept us in the game.’’
Straily’s season start in April with a 6.2 innings of two-run, 11-strikeout ball against Houston. His season, including a couple of trips to the minor leagues, has been on a yo-yo path. And Monday’s game might have been as good as he’s pitched, seeing that it came in a good hitter’s park against the second-best homer-hitting team in the league.
“Straily was just dominant for us today,’’ third baseman Josh Donaldson said. “We’ve seen it before, him pitching with that intensity. He did it against (Texas’s Yu) Darvish (May 21). He really dealt that game. Today he showed up and was able to get the job done again.’’
Manager Bob Melvin came and took the ball from Straily after back-to-back singles by Jose Reyes and Macier Izturis. Given that he’d only thrown 94 pitches, Straily could have made a case to stay in the game, but no.
Melvin made the call to the bullpen before getting to the mound.
“Bob didn’t give me a chance,’’ Straily said, smiling. “I knew the pitch count to start the inning wasn’t too high.’’
The manager was full of praise for Straily, saying “that’s probably as good as we’ve seen him all year,’’ but he went to Ryan Cook anyway.
“Straily was aggressive with his fastball and had a really good slider today,’’ Melvin said. “It was a really good job.’’
Straily will need more of those to stay in the rotation through to the end. The A’s have a five-man staff now, plus Tommy Milone is trying to work his way back from Triple-A Sacramento after spending the first four months of the season with Oakland. And opening day starter Brett Anderson could be in the rotation come September as his injured right foot permits.
–It will look good in the box score, but Brandon Moss’s pinch-hit double wasn’t necessarily a masterpiece.
Batting with Josh Donaldson on first base and one out in the ninth against Blue Jays’ closer Casey Janssen throwing, Moss dropped a fly ball down the right field line for a double. After an intentional walk to Josh Reddick, that produced a game-winning two-run double from Alberto Callaspo.
“Obviously in my at-bat, I didn’t exactly scald the ball,’’ Moss said. “It was a cutter in, and it blew me up.’’
That was the atypical hit for the A’s in the ninth inning. Donaldson’s single was legit, Callaspo’s double was a rocket and Stephen Vogt’s RBI single was well hit.
“It looks like we’re starting to drive the ball hard,’’ Moss said. “We’re getting better at-bats. (But) mine wasn’t.’’
–All of the A’s starters have begun growing mustaches. It’s not the 1972 A’s, but it’s something.
The look is better on some than on others, Straily suggests, pointing out the blond upper lip hair being sported by A.J. Griffin.
“He probably shouldn’t go to any playgrounds,’’ Straily said.