The Oakland Athletics recalled their surprise phenom Daniel Straily in time to start last night's game. I wrote in a previous article that the element of surprise might benefit Oakland. The borderline prospect suddenly became a strikeout machine against Toronto.
It was smart to bring him to the majors to record punchouts before any scouting report caught up with him.
What Straily experienced in his debut against Toronto was a microcosm of the 2012 Oakland season.
Straily contributed his share to meeting Oakland's expectations. He is a young pitcher who virtually nobody has heard of, and who contributed on the big league stage ahead of schedule. He fits in perfectly with Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin.
The 23-year-old right-hander was excellent in his debut last night against Toronto. He pitched six innings, let up a single earned run and five hits. He also struck out five batters while walking only one. And with the A's cruising to a 4-1 ninth-inning lead, it was clear that Straily was the story.
Then Jeff Mathis homered with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning to tie the game. No doubt, a great number of sports writers were hitting "delete" on columns that were almost finished in the ninth.
The story was no longer Straily—now it was about a typical night in Oakland.
Runners were picked off by Oakland relievers. Ancient Omar Vizquel was thrown out at the plate. Each team put runners on. Oakland's talented bullpen kept Toronto from scoring. The A's left the bases loaded one inning.
Then Jemile Weeks tripled and Coco Crisp drove him home with a sacrifice fly. The A's were walk-off winners again, keeping pace with Texas.
For the 13th time, the Athletics ended a game at home with the winning run crossing the plate. Thirteen out of 55 games there has been a reason to play "Celebration." Twenty-three-and-a-half percent of all home games end with a walk-off hit.
I truly hope Straily stayed until the end. He would see 2012 A's baseball perfectly laid out. The only thing predictable about this year in Oakland is that the hero of the game will never be who you are expecting.
Welcome to the club, Daniel Straily.