Gray drowns out noise, delivers 2-hit gem
OAKLAND -- A's right-hander Sonny Gray twirled six shutout innings in a 5-0 victory against the defending American League-champion Indians on Friday evening.
Not too shabby for a pitcher who had reportedly been scratched from the start.
Gray, arguably the most coveted item on the trade market, was rumored to be pulled from the outing less than an hour before his scheduled first pitch in a report that quickly proved false.
The pitcher was among those who got wind of the inaccurate tweet published by a Cubs reporter.
"When you get 50 text messages 45 minutes before the game, that's when you just kind of put the phone away and go to a place where you can just block everything out and get ready for the game," Gray said. "So that's what I tried to do."
The righty took the mound, as planned, and enjoyed quite the audition -- against a potential suitor, no less. Gray held Cleveland to two hits, striking out five, walking one and compiling seven ground-ball outs in the 100-pitch showing.
Many others were surely watching, too. The Astros, Braves and Cubs are among those scouting Gray, and several more clubs seeking pitching help at the Deadline -- think the Yankees, Brewers and Red Sox, among others -- could be sniffing around these parts, too.
Gray has been particularly excellent of late, yielding a total of four runs in his last four starts for a 1.33 ERA in that span, with just 11 hits allowed in 27 innings. These efforts have helped lower his season ERA to 3.72 across 14 starts, after he began the season on the disabled list with a right lat strain.
"His stuff has been there, and once he's gotten on a little bit of a roll as far as pitching deeper into games and being healthy, we're seeing what we're getting right now, and we've seen it a lot before," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He pitched really well."
Gray said he's "been more in attack mode" in recent weeks, spitting out a heavy supply of fastballs and sinkers. "That's been a good thing for me," he noted.
The 27-year-old has seemingly been the subject of trade rumors for well over a year, but only now do the A's appear to actually be in position to pull the trigger on a deal, as they attempt to load up on young talent with all eyes on the future amid another subpar season.
Gray, meanwhile, hasn't let the prospect of a trade deter his performance.
"You just don't know," he said. "Just one of those things that you have to deal with sometimes and whatever happens is gonna happen, and that's kind of out of my control.
"It can be difficult at times, but you have to focus on what you can control, and that's what I've been trying to do."