Gray labored through 5 1/3 innings of work, surrendering four runs (three earned) without much of a grip on his mechanics, as the Rangers ultimately fell, 5-4, to the A’s to open a three-game homestand at Globe Life Field.
“It was pretty ugly, really ugly,” Gray said. “Usually, you find something when you're off, something you can find to work with it. You make a change and you adjust and you keep going. Today, I just didn't. I couldn't make that adjustment. I don't know what it was. Just after reflecting back on it, I know the adjustments I need to make now, and that stinks because it's too late. But it's a good motivator for the next one. I know what I need to do to be back on top.”
Coming off his last start, in which he left the game early after a comebacker struck his forearm, Gray was looking for a bounceback outing to build on his strong start to the season.
At first, it seemed like a possibility, as he breezed through the first three innings, allowing just one hit and one walk and facing one batter over the minimum. Then it all fell apart, first with a run in the fourth inning, two more in a laboring fifth and one more after he was pulled in the sixth.
Manager Bruce Bochy said that while Gray wasn’t sharp, Bochy was comfortable letting him battle it out for as long as possible. Gray ultimately left after 5 1/3 innings of work in a tie game as the Rangers’ bats struggled on the other side.
“It's frustrating, especially because this isn't a game we wanted to get away from us,” said Gray, who ended with a no-decision. “That's what I hate about it. I take this loss and I wear it, it's mine, but man, I don't like the situation that the loss came in. It's just not good.”
Gray said his arm felt fine after the injury scare in Houston, and that all his struggles were purely mechanical and mental.
So what were the adjustments he felt like he identified and could make?
“Slow down,” he said bluntly. “Number one, just slow down. I've been really just focused on tightening my legs and not my upper half. Today, I was trying to tighten everything up, and it was a mess. So I just need to let my upper half relax and tie it to the bottom half, and that's really it. Simple, simple, easy thing. I should’ve been able to make it out there, but it's too late now. It cost us the game, but it's something to learn from in this one.”
After the Rangers put up a four spot in the first inning, the offense went cold against Oakland starter JP Sears and a trio of relievers. Sears notched a career-high 11 strikeouts to quiet Texas’ hot bats.
Texas didn’t have another opportunity until the eighth inning, when Marcus Semien and Robbie Grossman led off with a walk and a single to put two on with no outs with the heart of the lineup -- Nathaniel Lowe, Adolis García and Josh Jung -- coming to the plate.
They proceeded to record three straight outs and end the threat.
“Their guy [Sears] just settled down,” Bochy said. “He pitched good. … He started hitting the spots and started logging strikeouts. We just couldn't get much going off him. Give him credit, he's probably a batter away from leaving that ballgame [in the first], and he ended up pitching a big game for them. And we couldn’t tack on, and it came back to haunt us. It's always tough when you score four in the first and can't quite hang on. Jon was battling out there and probably didn't have his best stuff, but they just shut our offense down.”