OAKLAND – Bob Melvin said he and general manager Billy Beane didn’t come to a decision on starting Gray over Bartolo Colon until about 30 minutes before Melvin hopped on a conference call with reporters Wednesday.
Pitching coach Curt Young and other front office members also offered input before Melvin and Beane met to make the final call.
“A lot of things (went into it),” Melvin said. “Style of pitching, history, recent match-up, trying to match up styles against certain hitters in the lineup and so forth. But at the end of the day, this came down to the way Sonny has been pitching and certianly his last game.”
Gray shut out Detroit over eight innings in Game 2.
Alberto Callaspo draws the Game 5 start at second base for Oakland on Thursday, as the A’s look to generate any offense they can against Detroit’s Justin Verlander in the deciding game of the American League Division Series.
The move wasn’t a surprise, as manager Bob Melvin hinted he would turn to the switch-hitting Callaspo over Eric Sogard, who started the first four games at second. Verlander brings into the game a 22-inning postseason scoreless streak against the A’s. It’s imperative for Oakland to generate some runs to support rookie right-hander Sonny Gray.
Callaspo is 1 for 3 as a pinch hitter in this series. He doubled in the eighth inning of Game 2 and also engaged Max Scherzer in a tough at-bat in Game 4 before lining out to center.
“All of his at-bats this series weighed into our decision,” Melvin said. “It came down to, do you wanna give him four at-bats or (situational) at-bats?”
The A’s entire batting order: Crisp CF, Donaldson 3B, Lowrie SS, Cespedes LF, Smith DH, Moss 1B, Callaspo 2B, Reddick RF, Vogt C.
That’s a variation on previous batting orders in this series, with Yoenis Cespedes moving up one spot to bat cleanup, Seth Smith moving up to fifth, Brandon Moss dropping to sixth, Josh Reddick to eighth and Stephen Vogt to ninth.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland provided a surprise by starting Jhonny Peralta at shortstop over defensive whiz Jose Iglesias. Don Kelly is in left field, where Peralta played in Game 4.
“We’re trying to keep another over-the-fence bat in there,” Leyland said. “Really what you’re doing is playing Kelly for Jose Iglesias. Donny Kelly had two hits off of Gray the other night. He’s an excellent defender in left field.”
Melvin sounded skeptical about using Colon out of the bullpen for Game 5.
“Bartolo is a tough one for me based on his routine to start,” Melvin said. “He’s 40 years old. I don’t know that I would put him a great position if I do that.”
As for Jarrod Parker, Melvin wanted to see how he felt after playing catch before deciding if he’s a relief option. Parker has been bothered by arm fatigue.
A.J. Griffin, recovering from elbow tendinitis, was scheduled to throw before the game. Griffin was a serious candidate for the ALDS rotation had his elbow not acted up, and Melvin said the second-year right-hander would be a consideration for the AL Championship Series if he’s healthy and the A’s advance.