SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The worrywarts hunched over the stats from Sonny Gray's second spring start need not be alarmed.The A's right-hander was on the hook for seven runs in just two innings against the D-backs in Oakland's 21-13 win Tuesday, but his manager maintained that his stuff "was still pretty
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The worrywarts hunched over the stats from Sonny Gray's second spring start need not be alarmed.
The A's right-hander was on the hook for seven runs in just two innings against the D-backs in Oakland's 21-13 win Tuesday, but his manager maintained that his stuff "was still pretty good" even if the results weren't.
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Gray was robbed of what proved to be an elusive first out when he threw a wild pitch on strike three to his second batter of the game, sending in Arizona's first run. Gray walked his next batter, and what should have been a double-play ground ball skirted past first baseman Yonder Alonso -- playing near the bag in anticipation of a pickoff throw from catcher Josh Phegley -- and resulted in an RBI single.
Gray's next opponent, Ketel Marte, hit a three-run shot to right field for a quick 5-0 lead in a first inning that saw him total 31 pitches. He threw 51 overall.
"Even in the first inning, I thought I made a lot of really good pitches, and then some things escalate and you give up a home run," Gray said. "So that kind of compounds the inning into a really big inning for the other team. When stuff's not going as you'd like, it's difficult. You need to be better than that. You can't give in and give up that big hit, that big homer. That's kind of what happened today."
Six days ago, Gray tossed two scoreless innings with four strikeouts in his Cactus League debut, an encouraging sign for a pitcher who uncharacteristically stumbled to a 5.69 ERA during an injury-marred 2016 season. Gray didn't use his slider in his first start and struggled to control it Tuesday, throwing it for a wild pitch on three occasions.
"I kept throwing it in the dirt, in the dirt, in the dirt," Gray said. "I couldn't really correct it and got behind in some counts. … I'm going to have to be better with how I execute it."
This is just part of his game, though. Gray's slider is considered one of the best in baseball, and it regularly moves with abandon. He's often among the league leaders in wild pitches but typically pitches around the kind of damage caused in his latest outing.
"The first inning wasn't as bad as the number looked," manager Bob Melvin said. "It got a little out of hand, but his stuff was still good."
• Fifth-starter candidate Raul Alcantara allowed three runs on four hits in 3 2/3 innings in relief. Reliever Ryan Dull picked up the win in the wild affair, surrendering one run and striking out two in an inning of work.
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB.