Despite strong start, A's Gray must avoid early-inning struggles

Despite strong start, A's Gray must avoid early-inning struggles
April 6, 2014, 10:30 pm
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It means he’s a battler. It’s easy to throw in the towel and say it’s not your day.
Bob Melvin on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND – The overall numbers are good, but A’s right-hander Sonny Gray sure could make life easier on himself.

He went six innings in Sunday’s 6-3 win over Seattle and banked his first victory of 2014, but for the second time in as many starts, Gray stumbled out of the gate.

In last Monday’s season opener, Gray walked two in a 29-pitch first inning. On Sunday, he again walked two in the first and then was hit hard in a two-run second inning. Overall he scattered six hits and gave up three runs (one earned) Sunday with three strikeouts and two walks. But Gray is running up his pitch counts early and in general putting himself behind the eight ball.

“Right now, the first inning or two have been giving me fits,” Gray said. “I’ll get with (pitching coach) Curt (Young) and we’ll figure out a way to correct that going forward.”

Gray, who has an 0.75 ERA in two starts, did do some tweaking after the first couple innings Sunday and fared better.

“I kept missing arm-side” early on, he said.

There’s two ways to look at Gray’s first two outings of the season. One, the young right-hander is flirting with trouble by putting men on base early in games. Or two, he’s showing some steely nerves when he struggles early, doesn’t let the wheels come off, and delivers an overall solid start.

A’s manager Bob Melvin emphasizes the latter.

“It means he’s a battler,” Melvin said. “It’s easy to throw in the towel and say it’s not your day. You don’t see that (resilience often) at a young age. And that’s why we have such faith in him.”

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