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Game #111: Sonny Keeps Bullpen Away From His Win

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Let that be a lesson to you, starting pitchers on the 2015 Oakland Athletics. If you want something done, you simply have to do it yourself, and for the second time in two weeks, Sonny Gray took his win all the way to the very last inning, allowing just a single solo home run in his nine innings of work, out-dueling the very good Dallas Keuchel.

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Have a night Sonny Gray! Between Gray and his sidekick Danny Valencia, the A's coasted to a 3-1 lead over the AL West-leading Houston Astros. Gray pitched a complete game, while Valencia racked up two hits and a walk in his outing. He also played a superb third base.

This was a solid (and fun!) game for the A's, and I'm sure it's no coincidence that not a single bullpen member made an appearance. Sonny Gray needed no help; aside from a solo home run, he was perfect on the day in his economical 107 pitches.

Believe it or not, the A's offense was quite effective against the Cy Young candidate, Dallas Keuchel, who did pitch into the eighth inning, after a rocky start early. A Billy Burns single to open the game (he didn't move from first base, perhaps suggesting that he doesn't feel comfortable running against lefties? I've got nothing else.) With two outs, Valencia walked to put two on, but Billy Butler grounded out to end the inning.

The A's loaded the bases in the second inning on singles by Phegley, Semien and Canha, but Sam Fuld struck out for the first out of the inning. Keuchel had trouble striking out A's batters tonight, with the exception of Fuld. Luckily, Billy Burns--in one of the few times I wasn't yelling at him for hitting the ball in the air--knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly to put the A's on the board.

The A's added their second run on a Valencia home run in the third to stake Sonny to a 2-0 lead. He allowed his only run of the game in the fifth; a towering home run to Luis Valbuena. The A's would get it right back in their half of the fifth, and should have had more, if Billy Butler wasn't an automatic double-play. Lawrie started off the inning by being hit by a pitch, and moved to second on a single by Valencia (LET HIM PLAY!). After Butler hit into a unsurprising double-play, Phegley knocked in Lawrie with a ground-rule double. It must be said; he doesn't have Vogt's bat, but I really enjoy seeing Phegley behind the plate; the accurate, crisp, hard throws were a welcome relief from yesterday. I would play Vogt at first or DH more; no doubt he's tired from the grueling assignment all season.

The A's might have had a fourth run on Semien's single, but an absolutely laser perfect throw by Rasmus in the outfield nailed Phegley at the plate.

Sonny Gray didn't need any other runs. He breezed through the rest of the game, and notched another complete game for his twelfth win of the year. No big deal.

We play again tomorrow at 1:05PM. The A's will presumably start Jesse Chavez. We'll see you here with all the action.