MESA, Ariz. – Sonny Gray was in sharp form Monday night, and his teammates fell in line right behind him in the A’s 10-3 rout of the Giants.
Oakland pounded out 12 hits, Josh Reddick, Danny Valencia and Tyler Ladendorf all homered, and the A’s turned in by far their best defensive game of the spring.
Before a sellout crowd at Hohokam Stadium, Gray became the first A’s starter to pitch into the fifth inning this spring. He gave up two runs over 4 2/3 innings, one on a homer by Matt Duffy, but otherwise was in total command as he worked in his entire arsenal after sticking mainly with fastballs in his Cactus League debut Wednesday. He struck out four and didn't allow a walk.
His Opening Night is still three weeks away, but Gray’s competitive nature seems in midseason form.
“Every time I take the mound out here in spring, it’s a game,” Gray said. “You may want to work on stuff, but it’s never fun to give up runs. It’s never fun to give up hits. So I think mentally you’re in every game.”
His outing was a good way to welcome back Stephen Vogt behind the plate. After being relegated to DH duty as he worked back from right elbow surgery, Vogt made his spring debut catching Monday. He’ll catch every other game for the time being, alternating with Josh Phegley, as he works back into shape.
As for the defense, manager Bob Melvin was very pleased with the overall effort, which came just two days after the A’s committed five errors against Texas. Billy Burns left his feet for two terrific catches. Chris Coghlan, making the start at second base, made a diving play, as did first baseman Yonder Alonso. And shortstop Franklin Barreto, the A’s top prospect, added his own diving stop and throw to first, which was scooped by another touted prospect, Matt Olson.
“Unbelieveable today,” Melvin said. “This is the best defense we’ve played all spring.”
NOTEWORTHY: Burns set the tone defensively with a fully extended diving catch to rob Jarrett Parker and save a run in the first. Then Burns led off the bottom half of the inning with a first-pitch liner that struck Giants starter Johnny Cueto in the head and ricocheted into shallow center. Burns wound up with a double, but was most happy that Cueto wasn’t seriously injured. The pitcher went back to Scottsdale Stadium to get checked.
“It looked like from my angle it might have hit him right in the forehead,” Burns said. “I don’t know how he stayed in. That’s a tough guy right there, so I hope he’s OK moving forward.”
Burns drove in two runs, notched his third stolen base of the spring and is hitting .474. And after leaving the game, he was looking forward to hitting the sack. He’s due to be on the field early Tuesday morning for a baserunning tutoring session with special instructor Rickey Henderson.
FAMILIAR FACE: Former “Big Three” member Mark Mulder, who makes his home in Arizona, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Also spotted on the field during batting practice – Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers.
QUOTABLE: “Y’all can see that better than I can. I’m just ducking.” – Gray, on Conor Gillaspie’s liner that buzzed past his head for a single.
ODDS AND ENDS: Reddick, likely to hit third again this year, is dialed in against Cactus League pitching. He went 2-for-4 , including a three-run homer off Cueto in the first, and is hitting .438 for the spring. … Valencia’s homer, a solo shot in the fifth, was his second homer of the spring. … Ladendorf added cushion in the eighth with a three-run homer. He’s tied with Vogt for the team lead in RBI with seven.