By Jane Lee and August Fagerstrom
MLB.com |@JaneMLB |
CLEVELAND -- The A's Sonny Gray was victorious in a battle of two aces, shutting out the Indians in a 2-0 victory on Sunday at Progressive Field to end the season's first half.
Gray (10-3, 2.04 ERA) bounced back from his first real rough patch of the season by breezing through the Indians' order, allowing just three baserunners and striking out six while going the distance for the first time this season, and the third time in his career. He was perfect through three innings, had faced the minimum through four, and retired 15 of the last 16 batters he faced.
"Annoying," quipped All-Star catcher Stephen Vogt, when asked about Gray. "He was so good. His ball was cutting a lot, it was sinking a lot. He smells blood and just goes for it. Today, his ball was cutting up to four to six inches at times. It was just a lot of fun to watch him do what he does best."
Corey Kluber (4-10, 3.38 ERA) completed eight innings for the seventh time this season and made just one real mistake on a fourth-inning home run to Vogt. Kluber allowed two earned runs on four hits and two walks, striking out six, and continued to receive the league's worst run support. He entered the game averaging just 2.32 runs of support per game, and lowered that number by receiving zero.
"Today is a different day," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We faced a really good pitcher and we didn't do much. Kluber mislocated a fastball to the wrong guy that cost him two runs, because he pitched tremendous. I mean, you go eight innings and give up two runs and four hits, today it just seemed like more with the way Gray was pitching."
The A's have won their last two games, but still own a losing record (41-50) at the All-Star break for the first time since 2009. The Indians have dropped their last two, and own their worst first-half record (42-46) since 2010.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gray's gem: Gray proved his worth as a first-time All-Star by firing nine shutout innings to close out a spectacular first half, ending it with an American League-leading 2.04 ERA. The right-hander didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning, a Francisco Lindor single, and would surrender just one more the rest of the way.
"Really I thought his curveball was good today, as good as we've seen it this year, whether it was strike one or just to slow them down off his other stuff," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "No-hit stuff. That's about as good as you get." More >
Flashing the leather: The Indians supported Kluber with a strong defensive showing in the first inning, making two plays worthy of the highlight reel. First, right fielder David Murphy robbed Vogt of what would have been a home run on the 11th pitch of the game. The next batter, Ben Zobrist, hit a ball in foul territory down the third-base line, snagged by rookie Giovanny Urshela as he ran into the railing, nearly falling into the first row.
"I think we're going in the right direction [defensively]," Francona said. "The way Urshela has played third and Lindor at short, it's kind of sparked us. Not just their skills but their enthusiasm. They want the ball hit to him. I think it's helped everyone." More >
Not this time: His next time up, Vogt ensured that Murphy would have no chance of robbing him again. Vogt hit another deep fly ball to right field, but well out of Murphy's reach, landing several rows back in the seats. Billy Burns had drawn a leadoff walk the at-bat before Vogt, giving the the A's a 2-0 lead that proved to be enough.
"You can't really look for anything against a guy that good with that kind of stuff," Vogt said. "Honestly, I was just looking to kind of ambush him early. I didn't want to get to two strikes and have to see that nasty slider that you see on TV all the time, the Bugs Bunny one, and fortunately he just kind of missed in. I don't think he was trying to go in on the homer, but he kind of yanked it a bit and I didn't miss it."
"It just kind of hit me when the game ended, 'Wow, you're going to the All-Star Game.' I still don't know what's going to happen, or how to fathom it and put it into words, but I'm very, very excited." -- Vogt, on making his first All-Star team
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The A's AL-leading 12 shutouts are most by an Oakland team before the All-Star break since the 1972 club compiled 13.
Athletics: The A's will begin second-half play at home starting with a three-game series against the Twins on Friday. Gray, heading to Cincinnati this week as a first-time All-Star, will be back on the mound for the 7:05 p.m. PT matchup against Minnesota. He's 2-0 with a 5.40 ERA in two career starts vs. the Twins.
Indians: The Indians return from the All-Star break on Friday with right-hander Trevor Bauer (8-5, 3.76 ERA) taking the hill in Cincinnati. Bauer tied a career-high with eight innings pitched in his last outing, and didn't walk a batter for just the fourth start in his career.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB and listen to her podcast. August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.