Athletics name rookie Sonny Gray as Game 5 starter

With buzz from Sonny Gray’s sensational Game 2 start still lingering, here comes the kid’s encore performance: The Athletics have named him as their Game 5 starter for Thursday night’s final game with the Tigers.

So here comes Gray vs. Justin Verlander II.

“Obviously, we had 2 great options with [Gray and Bartolo Colon],” A’s manager Bob Melvin said on a late afternoon conference call Wednesday. “We looked at it from a bunch of different angles. There’s a lot of smart people in our front office and in baseball operations.

“Obviously, it came down to the last game Sonny pitched in similar conditions in our ballpark. That’s the route we’re going to go.”

Melvin said Colon’s potential availability Game 5 in relief essentially will be a game-time decision.

“I’m not sure yet,” Melvin said. “He’s willing to do anything, and he was great about it. I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with his routine. We’ll see tomorrow.

“He’s open to everything, but he does have a little different routine. I’m not sure how I’m going to handle that.”

Gray, 24, struck out nine Tigers, walked two and surrendered only four hits in eight shutout innings during Oakland’s 1-0 Game 2 win over Detroit. Matched against Verlander, the 2011 AL Cy Young award winner, Gray never blinked.

Oakland’s first-round pick in the 2011 draft, Gray went 5-3 with a 2.67 ERA in limited duty for the A’s this summer. He was recalled midseason and made a couple of relief appearances in July, was dispatched back to Triple-A Sacramento, and finally was summoned for good on Aug. 10. He appeared in 14 games for the A’s this summer, 12 of them starts.


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