Gray pleased with stuff despite tipping pitches in season-worst outing

June 18th, 2024

ARLINGTON -- stood by his locker in the Rangers’ clubhouse at Globe Life Field and shocked everybody with what he said.

“My stuff was really good,” Gray said, implying he was tipping his pitches following the Rangers’ 14-2 loss to the Mets. “I thought I threw the ball really good. But I don't care how nasty it is, I don't care if it's 110 miles per hour, if they know it's coming, they know it's coming.”

Amid one of the best stretches of his career, Gray gave up a career-high nine earned runs to the Mets on Monday. In Gray's previous 10 starts, he had given up 10 earned runs total. He entered the game with a 2.17 ERA. Afterward, it jumped to 3.31.

Gray threw 55 pitches, 42 of which were strikes. The velocity was up on both his four-seamer and his slider. For all intents and purposes, Gray was doing everything right. But the Mets were on top of everything, barely giving him a chance to breathe.

“It could be glove position, it could be on the leg lift, it could be on coming set or something, I'm not exactly sure what it is,” Gray explained of his potential tipping. “I tried to do a lot of different things tonight just to try to throw them off. But it seemed like they still knew it was coming. So I don't really know. It’s a shame I guess. I mean, that's baseball, right?”

It felt like death by a thousand cuts for a bit. The Mets continuously stayed on top of Gray, knocking around eight singles in the first 13 batters he faced. Then the big blow was landed, as DJ Stewart launched a 398-foot homer off Gray with two outs in the second inning.

Gray said it was then that he knew something was off.

For what it’s worth, Gray was almost resigned to the outcome. He wasn’t frustrated by the situation he had found himself in, rather intent on fixing what could have been tipping things for him.

“I think it's as easy as, if the next team doesn't know what I'm throwing, I'll be fine,” Gray said. “It really is that easy.”

The Stewart blast wasn’t the final jab of the night -- far from it. But it felt like the point of no return for the Rangers. When a struggling offense meets a bad day from one of its best pitchers, this is what happens.

Tipping pitches or not, the Rangers lost control of the situation and could never fight their way back.

“We had a really good pitcher out there and he's done a great job for us, and he just had an off night,” said manager Bruce Bochy. “And we haven’t seen that from Jon. He left a lot of pitches over the heart of the plate. He gave up the big inning there in the second inning and got knocked out early. So I'm not gonna be frustrated, I'm gonna keep working. The staff as well and these players, we'll get this turned around.”

Even when Gray exited the game, the Mets’ continued to add on, ultimately totaling 22 hits, the most allowed by a Rangers staff since July 26, 2017, against the Marlins at the old Globe Life Park.

Meanwhile, the Rangers offense collected just six hits, only two of which went for extra bases.

It’s become the story of the season for the Rangers, a story they would like to get figured out sooner, rather than later.

Is there frustration? Absolutely. Is there a sense of urgency across the offense? They always strive to get better, Bochy said. But there’s no denying that things are spiraling right now for the Rangers, especially coming off a series sweep at the hands of the AL West-leading Mariners over the weekend.

“This is what you have to deal with sometimes in this game,” Bochy said. “I’ve said it, this game can humble you sometimes. So you handle it and we will keep getting after it. That's all you can do. You don't have a choice. That's how we're gonna approach it every day until we get it right.”