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Game #71: Sonny Implodes in First Inning, A’s Lose 4-8

Sonny Gray had a disastrous 1st inning, giving up 5 runs, which proved to be enough for the loss. Hendriks and Michael Brady gave up a couple more later just to make sure.

MLB: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics
Get out of my face, I know I’m blowing it.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Astros unloaded on Sonny in the 1st inning, sending his stock plummeting. Oakland’s runs came in dribs and drabs, but they couldn’t claw their way back even as the Astros offense lay dormant for most of the game.

I Want to Get Off Mr. Gray’s Wild Ride

Sonny wasted no time putting the game out of reach. George Springer hit a leadoff home run - a towering blast to left field on a 3-1 dead center fastball. Then a 4-pitch walk to Reddick where the final ball landed 10 feet in front of home plate. Then an Altuve bunt single on an absolutely abysmal throw from Healy that Alonso barely saved from being an error. Correa hit into a double play, but McCann followed up with a double on a hanging breaking ball to drive in Reddick and make it 2 runs for the Astros. Beltran walked, Gurriel doubled, and then Bregman singled both of them in to make it 5-0 (after Sonny hesitated in covering home plate). Bregman stole second against Vogt’s puny arm (the 39th stolen base allowed by Vogt this season). Healy actually made a very nice pick, but his throw bounced just in front of Alonso and for once our stalwart first baseman could not dig it out. E-5, #66 of the year for the A’s. By this point the Astros had batted through the order, though this time around George Springer mercifully grounded out to end the inning from hell. 5-0 Astros. 38 pitches for Sonny. It was the 8th time this season he gave up 3+ runs in one inning.

Against all odds, Sonny actually managed to finish 5 innings after his abysmal start. It took 108 pitches. He allowed at least one baserunner in every inning and spent a majority of the game in the stretch. He consistently fell behind in the count, having to grind out each and every pitch all night long. He had remarkably poor fastball command, even by Sonny Gray standards. But ultimately, he was able to stop the bleeding after the 1st inning.

Time for a hot take: I want to get off Sonny Gray’s wild ride. Some other team can endure the consistent chaos, the malice of his wasted potential. When I see Sonny Gray nowadays, all I think about is what could have been. What could have been if we beat Verlander in Game 5. What could have been if Sonny (back when he was Good Sonny) had started the Wild Card game. What could have been if he hadn’t turned into a pumpkin. What could have been if we had traded him after 2015. And that’s the problem: I can see the past, but not necessarily the future. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a shorter rebuild fueled by the trade of a Cy Young candidate, instead of...this? I know I’m saying this with the benefit of hindsight, but it’s not like we weren’t debating it here at the time, and boy does a king’s ransom sound better than Sonny getting knocked around by his #1 suitor. Who would trust him in the playoffs anymore? His value has cratered.

Earlier today, there was talk here on AN of Sonny Gray still being an ace. Can we at least shut that down? @We have Jesse Hahn now.@

A’s Trickle in the Runs

To give credit to the A’s offense, they performed decently and with better pitching their effort may have been enough. They couldn’t get rallies going, but they kept up pressure all night against Francis Martes in his second major league start.

The first run came in response to the Astros, in the bottom of the 1st. Lowrie singled, then Khris Davis drove him in with an RBI double.

Pinder hit a massive home run to left center in the 3rd to complement his solid defense all night.

Another run came in the 4th. Davis singled, Alonso doubled (bouncing off of Reddick’s glove on a tough play in the corner), and Healy hit a sac fly to make it 3-5. Vogt took a 4-pitch walk to put two on with one out, but then Rajai Davis hit into his second double play of the night, turned perfectly by Jose Altuve.

Oakland’s final run came in the 7th. Michael Feliz was in to pitch for Houston. Rajai Davis hit a ball that bounced off the chalk of the right field line, careening into the right field corner for a double. Brugman was able to lift a ball just over Correa’s head, enough to make it to the outfield and drive Rajai in to make it (at the time) a 1-run game. A couple more hard-hit balls, but Pinder and Lowrie couldn’t get the ball to land for a hit.

The A’s had a little more action in the 9th. Phegley led off with a double, and the almost-game-ending strikeout on a ball in the dirt bounced away from catcher Brian McCann, allowing Brugman to reach first base safely and keep the game alive. Chad Pinder smashed a line drive towards Carlos Correa, but the shortstop leapt into the air and was able to catch the ball to end the game.

Hendriks is our (Bullpen) Gascan of the Night

There’s always one. Axford and Coulombe pitched the 6th and 7th cleanly (well, Axford gave up a double, but I feel that’s implied). Hendriks came in for the 8th. It went like this: Double for Bregman (with a nice little sliding catch by Pinder, though it wasn’t enough to stop Bregman from getting the extra bag), Marisnick walk, Altuve walk, Correa base hit. 7-4 Astros. Game.

Michael Brady’s Major League Debut

At least there was no pressure on Brady as he came in to pitch the 9th with his team down 3 runs. Also, he’s 30, so it’s not like anyone is expecting much. He gave up a home run to Carlos Beltran to make it 8-4 ‘stros. It happens.

Give me #Tradez.