OAKLAND — A's right-hander Sonny Gray revealed Friday he has a soul mate as far being a rookie pitcher in the playoffs. Gray hopes to follow his soul mate's lead, too.
Gray, who pitches Game 2 of the American League Division Series the Saturday night against Detroit's Justin Verlander, said he and Pittsburgh rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole have been texting back and forth in anticipation of their first postseason starts.
Cole, the top pick in the 2011 amateur draft (Gray was 21st in the same draft), made a sensational debut Friday and beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-1 at Busch Stadium in Game 2 of an N.L. Division Series..
"Yeah, I actually talked to him (Thursday) night," Gray said. "We played in college and he shot me a text today, and I was like, `This is weird.' We're both throwing in the playoffs when a year and a half ago we were facing each other in college. I wished him luck and he wished me luck."
Gray, who attended Vanderbilt, actually faced off against UCLA product Cole on Feb.26, 2010, in a game the Bruins won 9-2. They were also teammates on the USA national college team in 2009 and 2010, where they developed a fast friendship as the top two starters for those squads.
Gray was impressed with Cole's outing Friday and said it set a good example for him to face one of the top veteran pitchers in the game, Verlander, Saturday night.
"It goes to show you that you take it as another game and do what you have always done, just like (Cole) did today," Gray said. "You don't have to be overwhelmed by the stage of it."
Gray said the previous biggest game he pitched probably came in the College World Series in 2011. He threw the first game in Vanderbilt's first-ever appearance in the event, and called it "an exciting day.
"I'm sure (Game 2) is going to be exciting and there will be adrenalin going," he added. "Just to harness that and use it to my advantage is probably going to be the key to the game."
Gray said while he was in college, he watched Verlander on a regular basis.
"It seemed to be that he was the only guy people were talking about," he said. "I remember we were at a restaurant on the road and watching him pitch, watching him throw 100 mph in the ninth inning."