The A’s began their 14-inning marathon on Monday evening and ended it Tuesday morning, local time in Chicago.
Their 8-7 loss to the White Sox, which played out over 5 hours, 9 minutes, provided several interesting takeaways. Here’s a few that stand out …
--Sonny Gray’s disastrous start was long in the rear-view mirror by the time this one ended, and he didn’t even wind up taking a loss. But for the second time in his past three starts, he has struggled mightily and hardly resembled the pitcher who has dominated the American League for much of 2015.
[STIGLICH: A's rally, but White Sox win on walk-off hit]
The coming days will bring speculation of whether the 5-foot-11, 180-pound right-hander is wearing down in September. There were similar questions last season when Gray posted a 4.38 ERA in August and combined to go 2-7 from August through the end of the regular season. He managed to extinguish that story line last season by shutting out the Rangers in game 162 to clinch a Wild Card berth for Oakland.
Gray threw seven scoreless innings against Houston on the last homestand. But that outing is sandwiched by starts in which he’s allowed a combined 13 runs in just eight innings. He would have three starts left based on how the A’s rotation currently sets up, but it will be interesting to see if the team gives him some extra rest, given how September has gone.
--Watching Sox closer David Robertson’s struggles in the ninth, when he lost the handle on a 7-3 lead, probably looked familiar to A’s fans who have watched their share of late-inning leads vanish this season. On this night, however, Oakland’s own bullpen shined. Six relievers combined to throw 10 scoreless innings stretching from the fourth through the 13th. That’s impressive no matter how the final score played out.
--Josh Reddick hit one of the A's three home runs in the game, and it came off left-hander John Danks. Reddick began the season hitting .120 with one extra-base hit off lefties through June 10. Since then, he’s hitting .300 (21-for-70) off southpaws with nine extra-base hits (five doubles, four homers). The A’s have certainly endured their peaks and valleys offensively, but Reddick’s improvement hitting left-handers continues to be an encouraging development.
--Ryan Dull has not sailed through his past couple of outings, but that is what’s made them all the more impressive. The rookie is showing the ability to fight through adversity in tense moments. He put two runners aboard with one out in the ninth Monday before Mike Olt hit a potential double-play grounder that second baseman Brett Lawrie lost the handle on as he went to throw to first. Micah Johnson walked to load the bases, but Dull got pinch-hitter Rob Brantly swinging to end the inning and keep the game tied.
The tougher times are still ahead as major league hitters make their adjustments to him, but Dull is showing he won’t be easily rattled.