On a day when the A's really needed Sonny Gray to come up big, the boyish-looking man showed why Oakland could easily be sending 8 All-Stars to Minnesota. Gray's 7⅔ IP, in which he allowed just one unearned run, dropped his season ERA to 2.79 as he improved his record to 10-3.
However today was not about his, or anyone's individual stats. With the Angels winning to go into the break on a 19-4 run, Oakland needed a win to stay 1.5 up in the division. It did not begin well. Gray's own pickoff error in the 1st allowed James Jones to go from 1B to 3B with one out, where he scored on a squibber off the bat of Robinson Cano. With Coco Crisp out, Yoenis Cespedes slumping, and a 7-8-9 of Nick Punto-Andy Parrino-Craig Gentry, a 1-0 deficit seemed daunting. Little did we know that said 7-8-9 would star in the game.
Frustrated by Chris Young (as we were all last year, just a different Chris Young), the A's were blanked for 4 innings with the only bright spot being a double by Andy Parrino. In the 5th, Jed Lowrie doubled with one out and with two outs Parrino battled and drew a key walk that brought super-kitten Craig Gentry to the plate. Right on cue, Gentry scratched at the dirt in front of the plate, snubbed an offering of food from the catcher, slept for 23 hours, and then lined a game-tying single to center field.
John Jaso followed with a bloop single to left, one hop to Dustin Ackley. Mike Gallego waved Parrino around 3B knowing full well that a good throw cuts down Parrino. Ackley's throw was not good, however, so offline that Mariners fans everywhere made a sound quite a bit like his last name. 2-1 A's with Gray dealing.
Oakland added on in the 6th in a very familiar way as Brandon Moss crushed a 2-0 pitch into the RF seats for his 21st HR. They added on in the 9th, off of LHP Joe Beimel, in a somewhat unfamiliar way as Nick Punto hooked a HR, just his 2nd of the season, inside the LF foul pole. Oakland goes into the All-Star break with 98 HRs as a team.
Now let's talk about "dodging the bullet," as I believe the A's and Bob Melvin did in the bottom of the 8th. Leading 3-1, Gray had Endy Chavez at 2B with 2 outs and Robinson Cano coming up. It's almost as if Melvin thought, "You know we should have intentionally walked this guy on Friday." Yes, Bob, you should have. That doesn't mean you walk him now, when a base hit won't even tie it, when walking him brings the go-ahead run to the plate, when the on-deck hitter is Kyle Seager, and when the pitcher you're about to bring in, Sean Doolittle, has held Cano to a 1 for 10 in his career.
Undeterred by this logic, Melvin ordered the intentional walk to Cano. Fortunately, Seager popped up to end the inning but that doesn't make it the right call. It does, however, make it a call that worked and for that we are all grateful. Doolittle earned a 4-out save, striking out 2 to give him 63 Ks and 2 BBs at the All-Star break.
Who said that Gray days in Seattle are a drag? I think they're fantastic!