For the second time in his last four starts, Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sonny Gray tossed a complete game shutout, this time over the Los Angeles Dodgers on the road to snap the team’s four-game losing streak since General Manager Billy Beane started selling off key parts of the A’s machine. For Gray, it was his 11th win of the season, and his 2.16 ERA now tops the American League once again.
The A’s got the only run they would need in the first inning, when Billy Burns singled and score two outs later on Billy Butler’s weak infield grounder. Later, in the seventh inning, Josh Reddick hit his 13th home run of the season with one out to give Oakland a 2-0 lead. Gray needed 110 pitches for the complete game, and he struck out nine Dodgers while walking only one. Los Angeles totaled three hits on the night, while Reddick had the same number himself to earn half the A’s total.
With Beane trading Scott Kazmir, Tyler Clippard and Ben Zobrist in the last five days, Oakland is no longer interested in the postseason, of course. However, the win does elevate the club’s record to 45-56 this year, still 11 games out of first place in the AL West and eight games out of a wild-card spot. Stranger things have happened, but the A’s probably won’t make it four straight postseason appearances—unless they can somehow figure out how to pitch Gray every time out, on the road.
Away from the pitching-friendly O.co Coliseum, Gray was 7-1 with a 1.84 ERA coming in to tonight’s start. Obviously, he’s improved those marks with tonight’s showing. Considering Oakland is just 24-27 on the road this year, Gray’s eight road wins have kept them respectable away from home.
However, with 60 more hours or so until the trade deadline, Beane may not be done tinkering with the roster: Reddick is hitting .287 with 13 HRs and 57 RBI this year, and he’s making only $4.75 million. The A’s right fielder has one arbitration-eligible season left in 2016 before he becomes a free agent in 2017, so he may be on the move as well before Friday’s deadline. Likewise, reliever Edward Mujica—who saved 37 games for the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals in 2013—could be moved as well.
Oakland is playing for 2016 and beyond now, but wins like this hopefully can become a more frequent event for Gray and the A’s down the stretch. The Oakland ace should have started the All-Star Game, and right now, he leads the AL in ERA, opponents’ batting average against and WHIP. His 11-4 record could be a lot better, but the A’s bullpen has cost him a few times (May 8 against Seattle and July 22 against Toronto).
There just might be a Cy Young in Sonny’s future if he keeps pitching like this.