Sonny Gray has a a habit of struggling in the first inning.
On Wednesday afternoon at the O.co Coliseum, the 24-year-old didn’t struggle much at all. Gray served up a pair of runs in the fifth inning, but otherwise cruised through seven frames while piling up seven strikeouts. The right-hander earned his seventh win of the season as the Oakland Athletics improved to a MLB-best 44-28.
It’s still June, but manager Bob Melvin is certainly happy that his club has the most wins of any team.
“Any point at time in the season you can say you have the best record in baseball it’s satisfying. But there’s a lot of baseball yet to be played.”
The A’s jumped out to an early lead in the third courtesy of an RBI doubled from John Jaso, which brought home Craig Gentry.
With two outs in the inning, Oakland scored a second run on a single up the middle off the bat of Josh Donaldson. The third baseman clapped his hands emphatically as he rounded first base. Entering the at-bat, Donaldson had been mired in a 4-for-48 (.083) slump. The right-handed hitter finished the day 2-for-4, as he recored his first multi-hit game since June 4.
Melvin has seen a noticeable improvement in Donaldson’s approach at the plate.
“His swing’s better, he’s staying back. He looks more balanced.”
Melvin has also been as impressed as ever with Donaldson’s glove work.”
“His defense is still there. He made some great plays at third for us today. He’s covering a lot of ground.”
In the fourth, Yoenis Cespedes robbed Adrian Beltre of a potential extra-base hit when he made a leaping catch on the warning track. An inning later the Rangers tied the score at 2-2, as Shin-Soo Choo delivered a two-out single to left.
However, the A’s quickly retook the lead half an inning later as Brandon Moss laced a double down the right field line to score Cespedes all the way from first base. Oakland then added a second run to make it 4-2, as Stephen Vogt lofted a sacrifice fly to shallow left.
Sean Doolittle worked the ninth for the second game in a row, and with the crowd of 23,185 roaring, locked down his ninth save. The left-hander has now racked up 48 strikeouts and just one walk in 34 innings.
As Melvin explained, the stats speak for themselves.
“It’s pretty incredible. Once he was put into the closer’s role, he kind of solidified the roles down there. He’s been off and running. So, you really don’t have to say too much about it—just look at the numbers.”
For Doolittle, shifting from a setup role to the closer’s job is just “business as usual.”
“Once the inning starts, it’s business as usual. I keep it as simple as I can because there’s plenty of pressure in that scenario.”
Up next, the A’s take on the Rangers at 7:05pm on Thursday. Scott Kazmir (7-2, 2.20 ERA) gets the call against Joe Saunders (0-2, 3.46 ERA). Kazmir is 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA in his last four starts.