Programming note: A’s-Orioles coverage starts Sunday at 10 a.m. with A’s Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California (Channel Locations)
Sonny Gray has drawn some very tough pitching matchups over his past three starts.
He held his own against Detroit’s Max Scherzer and outpitched the Angels’ Jered Weaver. But he struggled in Saturday’s 6-3 loss at Baltimore, while another of the game’s up-and-coming young pitchers, Kevin Gausman, silenced the A’s over seven innings.
Gray hasn’t had many starts this season where he’s breezed. There’s typically one inning where he experiences a hiccup but holds things together and turns in a very solid outing. But when trouble hit Saturday, he had difficulty applying the breaks.
He lost command of the strike zone in the Orioles’ three-run fifth that broke a 1-1 tie. After throwing just 54 pitches through the first four innings, Gray labored through a 33-pitch fifth that ensured he wouldn’t be long for the game. His final line: 5 1/3 IP, 4 hits, 5 ER, 4 BB, 7 K’s.
Over his last three starts, Gray has surrendered 12 earned runs in 18 innings. That’s not pretty, but Saturday’s effort was the only one of those three where it felt like he kind of lost a handle on things. No reason to be concerned at this point. Let’s see how he comes out in his next start.
It seemed a return to Camden Yards might bring some good vibes for former Oriole Jim Johnson. But he gave up David Lough’s two-run homer on his first batter faced and also allowed a single and walk in his two-thirds of an inning. Peeved at himself as he returned to the dugout, Johnson slammed his glove down on the bench in disgust.
Fox Sports color analyst Bill Ripken said Johnson’s stuff looked decent enough, but doesn’t it feel like if Johnson is going to turn this season around, it’s going to happen in a different uniform?
Looking for a silver lining from Saturday’s game? Coco Crisp went 3 for 4 with a home run and double.
Need another one? Seldom-used lefty Jeff Francis tossed two scoreless innings and notched three strikeouts in his first outing since May 24. He’s pitched in just two games since the A’s claimed him off waivers from Cincinnati on May 18. There’s not much work to be had for a long reliever when your starting rotation leads the A.L. in ERA and ranks second in innings pitched.
All was quiet on the Josh Donaldson/Manny Machado front Saturday, but will anyone be surprised if the tension continues between these teams and their star third basemen? These two seem destined for long careers, meaning they’ll be compared and stacked up against each other for years to come. Donaldson is pretty outspoken in his interviews, and Machado proved Friday that he has no problem expressing his hostilities on the field.
Seems like a combustible – and entertaining – combination.