Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray has been voted American League Pitcher of the Month for April.
Gray compiled a 4-1 record with a 1.76 ERA, one shutout and 37 strikeouts in 41.0 innings pitched over six appearances (including a March 31st start) to claim his first career Pitcher of the Month Award, and the first for the Athletics since Bartolo Colon in June 2013. Among qualifying starters in the A.L. (minimum 27.0 innings), Gray finished tied for first in wins, was second in ERA, fifth in innings pitched and was 12th in strikeouts. Opponents batted .220 off of the right-hander.
Serving as Oakland's Opening Day starter on March 31st against the Cleveland Indians, the Nashville, Tennessee native allowed five hits and struck out seven over 6.0 shutout innings, but was tabbed with a no-decision as the Tribe went on to defeat the Athletics, 2-0, at O.co Coliseum. Gray became just the second starting pitcher in Oakland history to not allow a run on Opening Day (Tim Hudson, 2003). In his second start, the 24-year-old allowed three runs (one earned) on six hits and struck out three in 6.0 innings to notch his first victory of the season in a 6-3 triumph over the Seattle Mariners on April 6th in Oakland. Sonny held Seattle scoreless in the first inning to establish a personal-best 14.0 inning scoreless string before allowing a pair of unearned runs in the second frame. On April 12th, the Vanderbilt University product surrendered just one run on five hits and struck out a career-high nine batters to lead the A's to a 3-1 win over the Mariners at Safeco Field. Gray allowed back-to-back singles and an RBI-groundout to open the game, but retired the next 11 Mariners to set the tone in the Athletics triumph. Against Houston on April 18th, Oakland's first-round draft pick (18th overall) in 2011 served up three runs on a career-high nine hits, but the Oakland offense backed the third-year starter with plenty of run support as the A's went on to defeat the Astros, 11-3, in Oakland. On April 23rd, Gray surrendered three runs on five hits and struck out eight, but his efforts on the mound fell short as the Texas Rangers shutout Oakland, 3-0, at O.co Coliseum. Saving his best for last, Sonny shut down the Rangers in his final start of the month on April 28th in a 4-0 complete-game shutout at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Gray scattered three hits with one walk and six strikeouts for his first career complete game and shutout. The 108-pitch effort was the first complete game of the season for the Athletics.
Others receiving votes for A.L. Pitcher of the Month included Gray's Oakland teammates Jesse Chavez (2-0, 1.89 ERA, 41 SO) and Scott Kazmir (4-0, 2.11 ERA, 35 SO); Martin Perez (4-1, 2.95 ERA, 2 SHO, 26 SO) of the Rangers; Masahiro Tanaka (3-0, 2.27 ERA, 6 BB, 46 SO) of the New York Yankees; Felix Hernandez (3-1, 2.40 ERA, 7 BB, 47 SO) of the Mariners; Max Scherzer (3-1, 2.08 ERA, 11 BB, 51 SO) of the Detroit Tigers; Mark Buehrle (4-1, 2.16 ERA, 19 SO) of the Toronto Blue Jays; and Yordano Ventura (2-1, 1.50 ERA, 31 SO) of the Kansas City Royals.
The American League Pitcher of the Month, Sonny Gray, will receive a specially designed trophy, suitably engraved, for his accomplishment.