Texas enjoys 'Jon Gray Show' as righty takes no-hit bid into 7th

May 14th, 2023

OAKLAND -- The who took the mound in the early days of 2023 was not quite the one the Rangers were accustomed to. The club lost four of his first six starts, with the 31-year-old righty compiling a 4.40 ERA in that span.

Now the "Jon Gray Show" -- as manager Bruce Bochy termed it -- is in its revival. In his past two outings, Gray has held opponents to one run over 15 innings and collected consecutive wins.

"Really threw a lot of strikes," Bochy said. "Good slider going, good fastball. He mixed it up well and used his changeup effectively, and just did a terrific job. Our bullpen was a little beat up, so we needed him to go deep, and he gave us all that we expected."

Gray completed eight innings for the first time this season, taking a no-hit bid into the seventh as the Rangers defeated the A's 5-0 on Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum. After Texas relievers shouldered five frames in Friday's 9-7 loss in 10 innings, John King -- who tossed a scoreless ninth in his first big league appearance of 2023 -- was the only arm used out of the ’pen.

Leaning most heavily on his four-seamer and slider, Gray needed just 95 pitches to blank the A's through eight frames, punching out five batters against two walks. He allowed just three hits -- and didn't realize that the A's had a zero in the hit column until the fifth or sixth inning.

"I think that it gave me a little bit of energy, really," Gray said. "It felt good. I had something to work for. I like to feel like I'm chasing something out there."

The Rangers' right-hander averaged 2.8 mph faster on his slider, which he attributed to a grip change he made in the past week. Gray began the season throwing a slider that was more like a sweeper, but he chose to go back to the harder variation he threw in 2022 because it felt more reliable.

"I remember how it felt like a fastball," he said. "It was a good ground-ball pitch. I could use it early on and really get it underneath some guys' bats."

Gray cruised until he allowed his first hit of the game. A's third baseman Jace Peterson, who made a spectacular catch in foul territory to retire Leody Taveras in the second inning, jumped on a changeup and singled to break up the no-hit bid with two outs in the seventh.

“First at-bat, he started me off with [a changeup]. Second at-bat, he didn’t," Peterson said. "But with two outs, I kind of figured he might try to go back to it. … He threw a pretty good pitch, but I just was looking for it, so I was able to stay on it.”

Said Gray: "I was a little disappointed, I guess, but it didn't weigh on me too much. I got right back in there and made some pitches, but man, the defense really bailed me out today."

Ramón Laureano followed up Peterson's knock with a double to right field, but the shutout remained in play after Peterson was thrown out at home, a call that stood after a lengthy review. made a sharp relay to , who fired the ball to catcher to keep the A's off the board.

After Friday's back-and-forth battle, the Rangers' offense was firmly in control Saturday, with and   both going deep. 

But it was Semien who set the tone when he opened the scoring. The Rangers' second baseman led off the game with a base hit off former teammate James Kaprielian and promptly swiped two bags, getting in prime position to score when Lowe singled to extend his 12-game hitting streak.

"That's probably more frustrating than giving up a solo homer or something like that," Gray said. "Whenever there's runners on, you've got multiple things to worry about. Those are like rally igniters."

With Saturday's win, Texas has not lost back-to-back games to AL West rivals this season. The Rangers will have the chance to secure five straight series wins against divisional opponents in Sunday's matinee.

"These guys have just been so resilient, able to put [losses] behind them," Bochy said. "You're going to have 'em during the season. … That's not what's important; it's how you deal with it."