The A’s are hoping that right-hander Sonny Gray will be one of those late-season additions to a team that will breathe needed life during a time of pennant racing.
Gray, who seems to be a talented prospect, may turn out to be just that. His first big league start, coming in his third big league game showed some evidence that he can handle what’s to come.
His command was all over the place in the first inning, and when it wasn’t, former AL home run champion Jose Bautista crushed a homer to center with a man on board to put Gray in an early hole.
But even when the Oakland defense went south on him, Gray kept the damage to a minimum. Two errors and a passed ball in the next three innings led to a couple of unearned runs, but it could easily have led to more damage than that.
“He’s so good,’’ catcher Derek Norris said. “He’s very exciting. You could tell he was a little nervous in the first inning. But after the first, he settled down.’’
Gray himself choose to talk about the good defense played behind him – a double play started by shortstop Jed Lowrie and strong throw from left fielder Yoenis Cespedes that kept Bautista from turning a single into a double. In itself, that’s a sign of a certain maturity that young players don’t always have.
In taking the loss, he acknowledged his mistakes, and how he was able to get better over time.
“Early on I was missing with my fastball,’’ Gray said. “After the first inning, I got better command of it. And when I was able to throw my fastball for strikes, my curve got better, too.’’
Manager Bob Melvin came out of the game saying Gray made a good first impression.
“He was able to regroup after the early homer,’’ Melvin said. “That’s impressive. He did his job.’’
–After four months of floundering, Josh Reddick seems to be ready to reignite.
He hit three homers Friday, then followed with a two-run homer in his first at-bat Saturday and a solo shot in his last.
The five homers in two games matches a big league record with Mark McGwire (1995) being the last A’s player to get there.
Asked to explain the turnaround, Reddick made it sound simple.
“I’m putting pretty good swings together and I’m barreling the ball up,’’ he said. “There’s some consistency in my swings. And it doesn’t hurt to be hitting in a pretty good (hitter’s) ballpark.’’
Reddick has spent hour after hour sitting and watching video of his 2012 season, when he led the A’s with 32 homers and 85 RBIs. He has no hope of reaching anything close to those numbers this year, but if he can get into a 2012-like groove the final eight weeks of the season, that would serve the A’s well.
“It’s not necessarily a matter of figuring something out,’’ he said. “It’s more about consistent work. I’ve been breaking down a lot of video.’’
The results are finally highlight-film worthy.