Sonny Gray is so special. It's one thing when you see a guy like Randy Johnson, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, etc. dealing. Those guys are huge.
It's another when you see a guy like Pedro Martinez mowing down a lineup. There's something a bit more fun about it, rather than automatonic dominance it's playful "wtf how does this happen?" brilliance. Where does that 94 come from? That's what we get with Sonny Gray. And let's savor it.
The A's have not had a pitcher this good in Beane's tenure. With apologies to Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Gio Gonzalez, and others...no one has impressed me like Gray has this season. Absolutely ridiculous. New pitches every other game. New strategies every other game. Watching him constantly experiment is part of the wonder of Gray.
The guy takes the mound after the A's have completely given up on the season. The clubhouse is despondent. Ben Zobrist, Scott Kazmir, and Tyler Clippard, acquired to fuel a postseason run in 2015, have all been distributed to contenders in exchange for minor leaguers. And yet, here comes Sonny, cool as ever, just putting on a show in front of 50,000+ at Dodger Stadium. Young stud Joc Pederson knows how tough it is to hit Sonny. He struck out three times.
The closest the Dodgers came to scoring was in the 5th inning, when Alberto Callaspo (of all people) sent a drive to the warning track in right field.
Final line: 9 IP, 3 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts, 10 groundball outs. He's now an MLB best 8-1 on the road, and has won six in a row away from the Coliseum.
And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention...Gray actually got a base hit in the 8th. That's right, after pitching seven innings of of two-hit ball he got a legit base knock to lead off the 8th inning. He hit 94 in the 9th. Tonight, he was charmed, and so were we.
Despite trading their hottest (and perhaps best) hitter in Zobrist, the A's offense got it going early, manufacturing a run in the top of the first. Billy Burns led off with a searing line drive that took off Dodgers starter Brett Anderson's head. A walk and a couple of groundouts scored Burns, giving the A's a 1-0 lead that they would not relinquish.
Josh Reddick, in my mind unfairly maligned by fans for simply tweeting "welp" in response to the trades, crushed a solo shot to right field in the 7th inning, which ensured Anderson's exit. Reddick had three of the A's six hits tonight, and his homer gave the A's a 2-0 lead that held up.
This game featured the best 2015 A's (other than Stephen Vogt, who did not start) in Gray, Reddick and Burns doing their thing. Watching this team gives me some hope for 2016. There are some good players here, and a couple of unexpected moves could yield a very solid roster. We'll have to be content watching meaningless baseball for the rest of this year, but meaningless doesn't have to mean boring. It certainly wasn't boring tonight.
By the way, Coco Crisp hit a two run homer in Stockton tonight. So maybe when we've lost a few players, we can look forward to the return of a fan favorite. All is not yet lost, A's fans.