OAKLAND –- Sonny Gray turned in his best start in nearly a month and the A’s got contributions all around in a 4-2 victory Wednesday afternoon over the Texas Rangers.
After dropping Monday’s series opener, the A’s came back to win the final two against Texas, a team that has shown signs of hanging in the American League West race despite its numerous injuries.
The win moved the A’s (44-28) to a season-high 16 games over .500 and currently have the best record in the majors. They pushed their division lead to five games, pending the Los Angeles Angels’ result Wednesday night.
But the most encouraging sign for manager Bob Melvin on the day had to be Gray, who hadn’t been terrible in recent outings but hadn’t flashed his early-season All-Star form either.
The right-hander threw seven innings of two-run ball and struck out seven, flashing a fastball that consistently hit 95 on the stadium radar gun. He gave up six hits and two walks
John Jaso, Brandon Moss, Josh Donaldson and Stephen Vogt all drove in runs for Oakland, which opens up a four-game series against Boston on Thursday.
Starting pitching report
A’s manager Bob Melvin talked before the game of the need for Gray to get off to better starts. He allowed just one base runner through the first three innings. The A’s gave him a 2-0 lead by the bottom of the third. Gray stranded runners on second and third in the fourth by getting Brad Snyder swinging. He hit his only rough spot in the fifth, when he walked two and eventually gave up Shin-Soo Choo’s two-run single to tie it.
Gray stayed strong after that, completing as much as seven innings for the first time since an eight-inning start May 22 at Tampay Bay.
Melvin would prefer it to be this simple every game. Luke Gregerson came on to deliver a scoreless eighth, then Sean Doolittle closed it out for his ninth save. He hasn’t allowed a run in his past 20 outings, and he’s recorded 49 strikeouts against just one walk this season. That is not a typo.
At the plate
Jaso, hitting leadoff with Coco Crisp getting a day off, got the A’s on the board in the third with a double that scored Gentry from first. Donaldson added a two-out single to center to score Jaso and make it 2-0.
In the fifth, Yoenis Cespedes singled and motored around from first to score on Brandon Moss’ double down the right-field line. Vogt added a sacrifice fly.
Donaldson still isn’t hitting for much power, but he singled twice and is showing baby-steps of breaking out of his offensive funk.
In the field
Cespedes made an acrobatic leaping catch on the warning track in the fourth, but he also let another single bounce off his glove for an error in the fifth, though it didn’t hurt the A’s.
Wednesday’s matinee drew an announced crowd of 23,175.
The Red Sox roll into Oakland to finish off the A’s 10-game homestand. Thursday – Scott Kazmir (8-2, 2.05) vs. Jake Peavy (1-4, 4.53), 7:05 p.m. Friday – Jesse Chavez (6-4, 2.93) vs. Brandon Workman (1-0, 2.88), 7:05 p.m. Saturday – TBA vs. Rubby De La Rosa (2-2, 2.84), 1:05 p.m. Sunday – Tommy Milone (5-3, 3.56) vs. Jon Lester (8-7, 3.20), 1:05 p.m.