Gray baffles Rangers, even without best stuff

Gray baffles Rangers, even without best stuff

ARLINGTON -- That A's right-hander Sonny Gray tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings in Arlington on Sunday afternoon was no revelation. That he did it despite walking a career-high seven batters and fanning 10 on a career-high 119 pitches only further exposed his brilliance on the mound.

"Sonny doesn't have anything, he's still one of the best pitchers in baseball," said catcher Stephen Vogt, who homered twice in the 7-1 win over the Rangers. "He did not feel good today, and that's an understatement. He was not himself. The ball wasn't moving like it normally does. Didn't have a sinker. Didn't have a fastball, for that matter. Kinda just threw whatever he was throwing. He's just so good at manipulating the ball and making it move when he doesn't feel good."

Gray, who lowered his ERA to 1.67 through six starts, weaved his way through consistent traffic in a fiery state, stranding nine through the first six innings, after which he told his manager, "I can get another inning."

Gray struck out Rangers' leadoff man Leonys Martin, but proceeded to walk each of his next two batters on 10 pitches, bringing Bob Melvin to the mound with Adrian Beltre on standby at the plate. Gray assured his manager, "I can get him out."

The right-hander pitched to a 1-1 count, then reached for his slider, one of maybe only two pitches working for him on the day, and threw four in a row. Beltre swung through the final one for strike three.

"He gets better when he gets in trouble," said Vogt. "That's just him. He couldn't find it for two hitters, and then Beltre comes up, and all of a sudden he went into Sonny mode."

At 119 pitches, Gray departed -- becoming the first starting pitcher in A's history with 10 strikeouts, seven walks and no runs allowed in a game, and the first pitcher to do so and toss at least six shutout innings since San Francisco's Russ Ortiz walked seven and fanned 11 in as many frames on May 27, 2000 against the Cubs.

"I kinda was just up there trying to make pitches all day," said Gray. "I could tell from the beginning, it was going to be one of those days you just don't have your best stuff and it's going to be a battle all day long, and that's definitely what it was for sure."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.