Rewind: Gray, A's finish on right side of one-run game

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Rewind: Gray, A's finish on right side of one-run game

OAKLAND -– Sonny Gray didn’t feel his best, but he was pitching Wednesday in the type of game that brings out his best.

The A’s needed a victory in a bad way, and the fact it was just game No. 3 on the schedule didn’t diminish that. Their ace was there to answer the call.

Hardly full strength after battling the stomach flu, Gray dug deep and led Oakland to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox that allowed everyone in the home clubhouse to let out a collective exhale.

“Especially when we've lost a couple of tough ones, I think he even gets more inspired about being the guy to go out there and get deep in the game and give us a chance to win,” manager Bob Melvin said.

[STIGLICH: Instant Replay: Gray stifles White Sox in A's first win of 2016]

Gray held Chicago to three hits over seven innings, walking four but finding a way to get outs on a night when he knew early he didn’t have his best fastball. He leaned on his off-speed more and his natural movement. “He’s a damn good pitcher,” Sox catcher Alex Avila said. “I asked him, ‘How are you feeling?’, and he said, ‘Not too good.’ It didn’t seem that way.”

Gray registered a strong first impression with first-year teammate Ryan Madson, who compared Gray to one of his old Philadelphia Phillies teammates.

“He’s so polished, it’s crazy,” Madson said. “He reminds me kind of a right-handed Cliff Lee, where he’s just pounding the strike zone, real aggressive in the strike zone the whole game. And that’s tough to do as a starter.”

While Gray’s excellence often can be taken for granted, what made this an important win for the A’s (1-2) was what those around him did. The defense was solid, particularly shortstop Marcus Semien.

“That might be as good a game as we've seen him play,” Melvin said.

The A’s got just enough offense in the first two innings. Jed Lowrie delivered a sacrifice fly in the first – he’s driven in five of Oakland’s nine runs this season – and Mark Canha went the opposite way with a second-inning homer to right.

“It was a huge win for us,” Canha said. “Not only to win the game but win it in the fashion we won, a close game with the bullpen dealing like they did.”

John Axford handled the eighth, and with closer Sean Doolittle unavailable after pitching on back-to-back nights to start the series, Melvin went with Madson in the ninth. He allowed a leadoff single but closed it out, ending with a strikeout of Avila on a 3-2 changeup.

Madson gives Melvin a nice “Plan B” for the ninth when it’s needed, but Madson –- who saved 32 games for the Phillies in 2011 –- said roles aren’t something he and his bullpen mates are too concerned about.

“Any of the seven guys can pitch at any time,” he said. “That’s everybody’s motto, with Doolittle at the end. He’s our anchor.”

And there’s no doubt who the anchor of the rotation is. The A’s obviously take the field with confidence anytime they’re backing Gray, who is 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA in April for his career.

“If we wanna be as good as we think we can be,” he said, “we need to start winning these types of games. Tonight was a step in that direction.”

A's lineup: Healy batting second, Khris Davis back in vs Angels

A's lineup: Healy batting second, Khris Davis back in vs Angels

PROGRAMMING ALERT: A's-Angels coverage begins at 6pm with Pregame Live on NBC Sports California and streaming right here.

After batting fourth on Sunday, Ryon Healy moves up a couple of spots on the opener against the Angels on Tueday evening.

Oakland A's:
1. Jaff Decker (L) CF
2. Ryon Healy (R) DH
3. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
4. Khris Davis (R) LF
5. Stephen Vogt (L) C
6. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
7. Trevor Plouffe (R) 3B
8. Matt Joyce (L) RF
9. Adam Rosales (R) SS
Jesse Hahn -- RHP

Los Angeles Angels:
1. Yunel Escobar (R) 3B
2. Kole Calhoun (L) RF
3. Mike Trout (R) CF
4. Albert Pujols (R) DH
5. Jefry Marte (R) 1B
6. Andrelton Simmons (R) SS
7. Cameron Maybin (R) LF
8. Danny Espinosa (S) 2B
9. Martin Maldonado (R) C
JC Ramirez -- RHP

 

A's place Davis on DL, DFA Alcantara; recent acquisition called up

A's place Davis on DL, DFA Alcantara; recent acquisition called up

Rajai Davis, one of the A's key offseason acquistions, is headed to the 10-day disabled list due to a strained left hamstring.

The move is retroactive to April 22.

The A's also designated Rual Alcantara for assignment. The 24-year-old who was acquired in the 2011 Andrew bailey trade with Boston won the fifth starter job out of spring training, but posted a 16.71 ERA in three appearances this season.

To take their spots, the A's recalled right-handed pitcher Cesar Valdez and recently-acquired outfielder Ryan LaMarre.

Valdez,32, was recalled on April 20 to start against the Mariners. He allowed five hits and three earned runs in four innings. He was optioned to Triple-A Nashville the following day.

The 28-year-old LaMarre was acquired from the Angels on Sunday. In his only game with Triple-A Nashville on Monday, he went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts.