Still, Loaiza, who starts Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Wednesday against the Twins, is a right-handed pitcher, and it was evident something was wrong with the guy that the Athletics signed to a three-year, $21 million contract.On April 23, A's manager Ken Macha watched Loaiza throw a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and noticed that the radar gun clocked it at 79 mph. "What was that?" Macha asked pitching coach Curt Young. "That was a fastball," Young said. "Oh my goodness," Macha said. "Don't worry," Young told the manager. "He will get through three, I think, because he's throwing below hitting speed." Loaiza lasted 3 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits. He allowed five runs in one inning in his next start against the Kansas City Royals but had it erased from his record when the game was rained out in the third inning. He was still 0-3 with an 8.35 ERA. His next stop was on the disabled list with a strained trapezius muscle in the back of his left shoulder. "We had to get him out of the rotation, put him on the DL and get him straightened out," Macha said. "That's exactly what happened." Loaiza came back on June 8 and from that point on, he was the pitcher the Athletics expected. In 22 starts, he was 11-6 with a 4.47 ERA. He even threw a complete game, throwing 97 pitches in a 10-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants on June 25. He had gone 61 straight starts without one.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.