Straily left it all on the mound in Houston

Straily left it all on the mound in Houston
April 5, 2013, 10:00 pm
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Dan Straily's final stat line: 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 11 K, WIN (USA TODAY IMAGES)

HOUSTON, Tex. -- Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Dan Straily took the mound knowing it might be his last start in the big leagues for a while. With Bartolo Colon returning from his performance-enhancing drug suspension on Saturday, Straily will be bumped from the rotation and the big-league roster.

Instead of folding under the circumstances, he played the hand he was dealt like he was using house money and got his first win of the season.

[INSTANT REPLAY: A's 8, Astros 3]

"It was terrific. It might have been the best we've seen him pitch here," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "A strong performance for a guy that obviously we just sent down, and had that weighing on his mind going out there to pitch too."

Straily matched a career-high with 6 2/3 innings and struck out a career-best 11 batters on Friday. He used his four-seam fastball to strike out eight, and his slider to finish off the other three. He became the first A's pitcher to strikeout 11 or more batters with zero walks since Gio Gonzalez on August 1, 2010.

Straily stayed off social media leading up to his start so he wouldn't be distracted by the news surrounding his outing. Admittedly, the thoughts about getting sent down creeped into his mind.

"It was something I've thought about, I kept trying not to," Straily said. "I can do basic math, there's six of us for five spots and I'm the least experienced and the youngest guy."

While Straily pitched the first four scoreless innings with a one-read lead, he got about all of the run support he could ever dream of during the A's seven-run fifth inning. The onslaught of offense proved to be a bit challenging, however, as he had to try to stay warm while spending over 30 minutes sitting in the dugout.

"I came off the field at 8:34 p.m. and just kept watching the clock because in the minor leagues if you sit for 45 minutes you're done," Straily said. "We have a tee downstairs and I was just throwing baseballs into the tee."

Jed Lowrie showed his veteran leadership by continually visiting with Straily and telling him to stay focused.

The 24-year-old starting pitcher allowed two runs, but only one of them scored while he was on the mound. The other run scored after he was relieved by Pat Neshek with 102 pitches.

Straily led all of Minor League Baseball with 190 strikeouts last season, the most by an A's minor leaguer since 1971. He will be a valuable depth play for the A's at some point this season.

"He's a good pitcher and there's going to be a point in the season when that's going to be his spot," Coco Crisp said. "He's proven himself in the minor leagues and he did a fantastic job tonight. It's only a matter of time before one of those spots is his."

Notes:

-- Brandon Moss and his wife Allison haven't had their baby yet. Shane Peterson, who was here in case he needed to fill in for Moss, is heading back to Sacramento. He joked that he didn't get his cup of coffee in the big leagues but he got a lot of Gatorade. With Peterson leaving, Moss is likely heading back to Houston.

-- The seven runs the A's scored in the fifth inning are the most they've scored in a single frame since they scored nine runs in the seventh inning against the Red Sox on August 31, 2012.

-- The Astros lead Major League Baseball with 56 strikeouts through four games.

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