Sonny Gray came to the A’s as someone with an intricate knowledge of the strike zone.
He’s going to strike out a few, as was the case Friday in a 3-0 loss to the Giants in Scottsdale when he fanned seven in 5.2 innings and walked just one.
He could use a little more help from his defense when he doesn’t register the K. Three times A’s infielder butchered plays, one each by shortstop Jed Lowrie, second baseman Nick Punto and first baseman Brandon Moss.
After being able to pitch around the first two errors, the third one, by Moss, wound up costing Gray when Joaquin Arias grounded an RBI single up the middle with two out in the fourth. That was all Gray gave up during his time on the mound.
“I was able to make pitches instead of ramp up and throwing it as hard as I could,’’ Gray said. “I wasn’t trying to overthink it.’’
Manager Bob Melvin wasn’t crazy about his team having more errors (three) than hits (two), but partially wrote it off to bad lights and rusty players after a day off.
“We have been playing pretty well,’’ Melvin said, “but defensively and offensively we were rusty today.’’
It was the next-to-last start for Gray before his probable opening day start against the Indians in Oakland March 31. Melvin won’t make the announcement for a few days yet, but by the time Gray makes his next start on the A’s getaway game from spring training next Wednesday, his coronation will be made official.
Friday’s game was his best of the spring, and not just with his pitches.
While playing without the DH, the A’s didn’t want Gray to get hurt hitting, so they told him to bunt. Gray did, but not a sacrifice.
“That’s the competitor in him,’’ Melvin said. “He’s out there trying to bunt for a hit.’’