Gray subdues Rays with untouchable fastball

July 20th, 2017

OAKLAND -- With his four-seam fastball causing all sorts of headaches for Tampa Bay during Wednesday's 7-2 win over the Rays, Athletics ace put together yet another solid outing that should enhance his value as a potential trade target.

Pitching in what may be his final game in Oakland -- a statement that will be made after every Gray start until a deal actually does or does not materialize -- Gray (6-4) was once again masterful. The Oakland right-hander allowed two runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings, the seventh time in his last eight starts that he has gone six or longer.

That's the type of stuff that's sure to keep Gray's name popping up in trade talks as the July 31 non-waiver Deadline approaches.

The crowd of 17,019 at the Coliseum was keenly aware of that, too. As Gray strolled slowly off the mound after striking out to open the seventh inning, he received a standing ovation that admittedly was a bit emotional, both for the pitcher and the fans.

"It was nice," said Gray, who previously downplayed the trade rumors. "I've had a lot of times coming off the mound getting some cheers, and it took me back to 2013 in those two playoff games. It was really nice.

"Whether it is or whether it's not, it's not up to me. But it did, it brought back a lot of memories. That was really nice."

Gray struck out six and walked two while holding the Rays down. He induced a pair of double plays and got to strike out looking to end the sixth with runners on the corners.

Over his last five starts, Gray has allowed just six earned runs in 33 1/3 innings, lowering his ERA from 4.84 to 3.66.

"When he's at his best, he's got a really good feel for what's working on a particular day," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He's got that feel back again. It might not necessarily be the same repertoire every day, but that's kind of what makes him who he is."

Gray's effectiveness against the Rays was reflected in the number of swings-and-misses he got. Gray got the Rays to whiff at 19 of his 104 pitches, nine of them coming off his four-seam fastball.

"Luckily for me, I had a good fastball today," Gray said. "Had a little hiccup there in the fourth, they put some good swings on the ball. My stuff was just OK today, but I did have a good fastball, so I used it."

As for the trade rumors that seem to crop up every day, Melvin simply shrugged them off.

"I try not to think too much about that," the A's skipper said. "I've had him for a while. I just kind of go with the flow as far as that goes."