(ST. PETERSBURG, FL)—An unexpected scoreless six innings from Kendall Graveman on Saturday gave the Oakland Athletics a 5-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, and today, Sonny Gray has a third straight chance to give the A’s something they desperately need: consecutive wins.
In Gray’s last two starts, Oakland has been coming off a win—and the A’s young ace has been matched up against inferior starters for the other team. Yet both times, Oakland lost games they could have won. Is the third time a charm? Today, we will find out at Tropicana Field as Gray (4-2, 1.92 ERA) faces Tampa Bay and Erasmo Ramirez (2-1, 6.44).
On May 13, Gray took the hard-luck loss at the O.co Coliseum against Wade Miley and the Boston Red Sox, 2-0. Miley had a 6.91 ERA coming into that contest. Then, on May 19 in Houston against Roberto Hernández (and his 4.12 ERA), the A’s young star pitcher wasn’t very effective in a 6-4 loss.
Knowing Gray and his bulldog mentality, he will be at his best today against the American League East-leading Rays (24-20) as Oakland desperately tries to win consecutive games for the first time in more than a month. The A’s are in last place in the AL West, of course, with the worst record (15-30) in baseball.
However, if Graveman can pitch like he did on Saturday, Oakland might have a chance to get back to .500 at some point this season. In easily his best start at the major-league level, the rookie righty threw six shutout innings, allowing only three hits and two walks. Better yet, he struck out six Rays in the process.
In his only other win back on April 14 in Houston, Gravemen went 5 1/3 shutout innings, but he gave up four hits, walked four batters and only struck out three Astros. Overall, his first four starts for the A’s this season left him with a 8.27 ERA—and a demotion to Triple A.
Clearly, Graveman learned something down there, and the A’s can only hope he will now deliver on the promise he showed in spring training this March. Oakland needs it, especially with few other things going right this season so far.
The A’s did get some things going their way in the sixth inning yesterday, scoring four times off the Tampa Bay pitching staff. Eric Sogard drove in Josh Reddick with the first run, and after a walk to Mark Canha, it was Sam Fuld delivering a two-out single that scored Max Muncy, Sogard and Canha—the last run scoring when the Rays made two errors on the play.
Oakland knows that misery all too well, of course, so it was about time the opponent returned the favor—and then some: The A’s got an addition run in the eighth inning when Tampa Bay reliever Enny Romero walked four batters in the inning to force in a run.
Gray knows he can’t count on those kinds of handouts today from the usually solid Rays, so it will be up to him to see if the A’s can finally get that elusive second consecutive win.
Game time is 1:10 p.m. ET.