Big bats return, but expectations not met
OAKLAND -- This is not what the Rangers were expecting on Monday night with their lineup reinforced by the return of Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo and Mitch Moreland.
But Athletics starter Sonny Gray was tough against them all last season, and he has begun this season the same way. Gray took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before allowing a leadoff single by Ryan Rua. That ruined Gray's chances of joining Bob Feller as the second pitcher to throw a no-hitter on Opening Day.
In all other respects, Gray completely shut down the Rangers, and they were shut out, 8-0, on Opening Day for the first time since 1972. Gray had a 2.06 ERA in six starts against the Rangers last season.
"Nobody wants to have a no-hitter thrown against them," third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "But when you hit some balls hard at people, it can happen. We didn't want it to happen. It was a relief to get one, but it wasn't enough."
Rua, who went 3-for-6 against Gray last season, struck out in his first at-bat, in the second, and flied out to deep left-center in the fifth. In the eighth, Gray threw two fastballs by Rua to get ahead, 0-2, and he tried to throw one more, but Rua grounded it through the right side for a single.
"I was just trying to shorten up and get the bat on the ball, not do too much," Rua said.
Gray was trying to throw the fourth no-hitter against the Rangers in club history. The last one was by Mark Buehrle of the White Sox on April 18, 2007, in Chicago.
"We felt like we had an approach and we had a plan," manager Jeff Banister said. "You can put all those things together, but when the guy on the mound is pretty good, he has a say in the outcome. At some point you have to give credit to the guy with the ball in his hand. We couldn't get anything going at all."
The Rangers only had one runner reach scoring position. Leonys Martin took second with two outs in the sixth when left fielder Ben Zobrist dropped his fly ball for an error.
"He was spotting his heater to get ahead, and he threw his breaking ball for strikes," Moreland said. "He mixed it well and did a great job. We felt like we made a few good swings, but it didn't go our way."