Gray unable to find consistency in rough outing

Gray unable to find consistency in rough outing

CLEVELAND -- The A's joyride came to a screeching halt this weekend, their newfound enthusiasm squashed at least temporarily by a three-game sweep at the hands of the red-hot Indians.

The wheels came off quickly in Sunday's finale, with Sonny Gray faltering again. The right-hander was responsible for seven runs in just 3 1/3 innings in the 8-0 loss, continuing a season that has been every bit frustrating for him as perplexing.

Just last week in Texas, where the A's took two of three from the first-place Rangers, Gray appeared to have turned a corner -- much like the club as a whole, with Oakland going 9-4 out of the break. Following a forgettable weekend in Cleveland, though, the realities of another disappointing A's season have set in yet again, just in time for the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

The A's are still taking calls on starter Rich Hill and outfielder Josh Reddick, though they aren't in a hurry to deal either, and it's very possible that Monday's 1 p.m. PT Deadline passes without movement.

"If something happens, it happens," Reddick said. "If it doesn't, it doesn't, and that's great. It's going to be interesting with the off-day tomorrow to wake up and anticipate what's actually going to happen. Just have to keep myself busy and stay by the phone."

"I try not to get too caught up in that," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "The players try not to, either. It's hard not to, but it'll be a bit of a relief if we do get by and don't have significant moves, because we're talking about some good players."

Barring a trade, Hill is set for a bullpen session on Tuesday, setting him up for a potential Friday start in Oakland. Should Hill be dealt, however, the 26-year-old Gray would be left as the elder statesman of a young A's staff.

They certainly need him to pitch like one.

Gray's ERA sits at 5.84 following Sunday's drubbing -- including 6.80 since April 27. He retired his first six batters before succumbing to the type of rough inning that has come to define so many of his outings this year, even when he has good stuff.

"I don't think my stuff's been a problem for the most part all year," said Gray, dealt his 10th loss. "My stuff is good. I went back and compared this year to previous years, and stuff-wise, everything is very similar. This year is just not going in the right direction."

The right-hander allowed four hits in the five-run third inning, including a two-run home run to Mike Napoli that came on the heels of Francisco Lindor's sacrifice fly -- made possible by Gray's Major League-leading 15th wild pitch of the season.

Gray returned for the fourth only to allow the first five batters to reach -- including Roberto Perez, whose RBI chopper past third base set the stage for Carlos Santana's walk, leading Melvin to turn to his bullpen.

Melvin believes Gray, who tossed a two-hit shutout at Progressive Field on July 12 last year, was "a little bit snakebit."

"When we started this game today, I thought he had the same stuff when he pitched a shutout here last time," Melvin said. "Looked that way early on, and then they got some baserunners on, some balls found some holes and Napoli hits a homer.

"It's unbelievably frustrating for him when you go out with that kind of stuff and get off to the start that he did, and the next thing you know there's a five-spot up and you're having to battle to stay out there."

Said Gray: "This was pretty frustrating. Every time you have a decent start and think you're going to get on the right track … for the last month and a half, every time there's been some positives to take out of a start, you go out and throw the ball well, then something like this has seemed to happen."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.