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The Forecast For Game 5 Should Be Sonny And Gray

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

First off, hindsight is 20/20 and knee-jerk reactions to small samples are annoying, but this post is not purely a reaction to last night's game (I first made this point Friday night before Gray's start). Hopefully the A's win twice in Detroit and render Game 5 moot -- remember that losing the first game and then winning the next 3 was Oakland's avenue to a series win against the Tigers last year, only Game 2 went all wonky on them. But if the series comes back to Oakland for a "winner-take-all Game 5" I think the ball should go to Sonny Gray. Why?

When selecting a pitcher for a one-game showdown, a good way to assess your best choice is to ask yourself "Who is the other team hoping to avoid?" I'm sure the Tigers recognize and respect Bartolo Colon as a very good pitcher having a very good season, but I'm even more sure that they're hoping Colon gets the start so that Gray doesn't. Just as Anibal Sanchez is an excellent pitcher but Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander are the guys you fear might dominate you and single-handedly control the outcome, Colon is extremely solid but Gray has the "ruh-roh" factor. You want to select the guy the other team is hoping you won't choose. I can assure you that's Gray.

Game 5, in which the Tigers will likely start Scherzer and have Verlander at the ready to back him up, has the potential to be, if not another 1-0 game, 2-1. In Colon, the A's have a pitcher who is very likely to give you a solid performance: Give up a couple of runs but get deep into the game and pitch well overall. That plays great in the regular season and not as well in Game 5. Gray is the one with the best chance to dominate, as he did last night, and truly shut down the Tigers.

Some will argue that in Game 5 you have to go with experience. I say you go with dominant stuff that has "shutout potential". If the series comes back to Oakland, in order to advance the A's might not have the luxury of giving up a couple runs. I know he's only 23, I know he gives up runs sometimes, and I know he is not, in fact, the second coming of {insert your savior here}. At the same time, if you had any questions about Gray's ability to thrive under pressure on the big stage, those questions were surely answered last night with an exclamation point.

If the series comes back to Oakland on Thursday, I expect Colon to get the nod but I hold out hope that the innovative, outside-the-box A's -- the same crew that selected Gray for Game 2, ensuring that he, and not Jarrod Parker, would be on turn for Game 5 -- will not bail the Tigers out. Undoubtedly, Detroit wants to see Colon. And that's why I want to see Gray.