Thursday, April 21, 2011

Now Pitching for Oakland: The East Bay Express

By Kibby Kleiman
Thu, Apr 21, 2011 at 10:03 PM

Even if the A's don't score another run until May, the pitching continues to dazzle. Number five starter Brandon McCarthy gave up only one run to Seattle; naturally, it beat him and the Athletics. When Spring Training started, McCarthy wasn't even on the expanded roster. That put him slightly ahead of Tyson Ross, the A's number six starter, who began the season in the minor leagues. Ross gets the game ball Friday night, and carries with him not only the hopes of the 510, where he pitched as a prep and a collegian, but best wishes from the operators of this very publication, who share a copyright with the young hurler's nickname. Oh and one more thing for the East Bay Express it's also his birthday.

Tyson Ross is the rare A who grew up within the sound of Coliseum BART. Ross has a couple of biographical details that deserve an introduction. He is African American; he is a native Oaklander; he pitched for Bishop O'Dowd; he is six-foot-six and wears the number 66; he struck out 16 once while pitching for Cal. He opened last season with the A's, getting off to a great April, but then failed as a starter and then as a reliever, meaning that that weren't a lot of options available for him except the one that got him sent to Sacramento to pitch for the River Cats.

The A's need the 24-year-old local to take the place of injured started Dallas Braden. The gig is most likely a temporary one. Now if Ross could hit better than .230 we might have something, but assuming Braden recovers from a sore arm, the Athletics will be holding an audition for the bullpen.

Now about that nickname. Guys with 2-5 records generally don't have them. It's not clear that anyone outside the fan website, Athletics Nation calls him the "EB Express". Tyson Ross has a long way to go before earning a starting spot or his new moniker. But if he can keep the strong streak of pitching going long enough to keep the A's in the game, on the hope that they can cross home plate (not counting when returning from taking strike three) even once, he will help the A's get back to .500, stay close to the division leaders, and keep things in place until Dallas Braden's return, maybe they'll be calling him the Bay Guardian.

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