Gray's return to mound short but sweet for A's

Gray's return to mound short but sweet for A's

ANAHEIM -- A's pitcher Sonny Gray was admittedly nervous when he took the mound Wednesday evening in Anaheim. He also couldn't help but peek at the stadium radar reading after throwing his first pitch.

"I definitely took a glance back to make sure that everything was pretty normal," Gray said, "and it was."

So was the rest of his outing, which lasted just one inning as planned. This, in itself, was significant, even if the 18-pitch performance hardly stood out on a busy scorecard that summed up the A's 8-6 loss to the Angels.

Gray, who spent nearly two months rehabbing a forearm injury, was making his first start since Aug. 6 to cap an injury-marred season gone awry. The clean first inning, in which he worked around a leadoff base hit and struck out one, put his ERA at 5.69 for the season -- this, after he finished third in American League Cy Young voting last year with a 2.73 ERA.

"That's our guy," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Granted, he had a bit of a tough season this year and had to deal with a couple injuries and just a bit of an off year for him, but just for us to know as a team he went out there and was healthy and looked like the old Sonny, psychologically that's good for the ball club."

One scoreless inning doesn't dissolve all of the not-so-good ones, but it does offer the 26-year-old Gray a reminder of the pitcher who is still considered one of the best in the game.

"I got to where I was for a reason and I just need to stay on that path and trust the course," Gray said. "If you have a bad outing, don't overanalyze it, just go back to doing what you've always done."

"He looked good," Melvin said. "You can get a little jumpy when you get out there, but he wasn't. He threw the ball where he wanted, had good movement and was very composed for an excitable guy that hasn't been out there in a long time."

Gray threw 13 of his pitches for strikes, complementing his command with consistent velocity, even touching 95 mph on at least two occasions.

"It felt like everything was coming out very good," he said. "This whole process, I've gotten to kind of hone in on my mechanics a little bit and watch and compare this and that, so coming back, I was able to try to get back to my normal mechanics. It definitely felt better, stronger."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.