The A’s brain trust wasn’t ready to pick a starting pitcher for Game 3 of the American League Division Series until after Game 2 was over.
As it happened, even having the game over wasn’t enough to get the deal done.
Manager Bob Melvin, general manager David Forst and executive vice president Billy Beane wanted to make sure they got this one right, and it was more than an hour after Chad Pinder grounded into a game-ending double play – giving the Houston Astros a 5-2 win and a 2-0 lead in the series – that the settled on Jesús Luzardo.
It was Luzardo the A’s went with in Game 1 of the AL wild card series against the White Sox. It did not go well,
The left-hander, who would turn 23 a day after the Sept. 29 start, lasted just 3.1 innings, giving up a couple of homers and three runs, putting the A’s in a hole out of which they would not emerge..
Oakland could have gone with one of two right-handers, Frankie Montas and Mike Fiers, but the A’s see Luzardo as their future. And, evidently, as their present.
Luzardo was the choice against Chicago, in part for what he did last year – three scoreless innings against Tampa Bay in the A’s wild card loss to the A’s.
“I’d been getting my feet wet and pitching in postseason baseball last year really helped me a lot,” Luzardo said. “I’m glad that they trusted me and gave me the confidence to go out and throw three innings. Hopefully I can do the same thing for them this year.”
He didn’t. But that was last week. He’ll get the chance again Wednesday, with Melvin’s full confidence. The manager marvels at the poise and confidence with which Luzardo conducts himself.
“It’s very important,” Melvin said. “And as we saw last year, we used him in a different role. We brought him in the wild card game and he looked like a veteran on the mound. He pitched really well. He’s composed, he’s got great stuff. I think he really is one of those guys that kind of relishes these types of games.
“So, at a young age, it’s kind of rare to see. But I think the experience he got last year and some of the attributes we talked about would mean that he wouldn’t be afraid,”
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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