It says something that Sonny Gray gave up seven earned runs in seven-plus innings Tuesday and said afterward “this was the best I felt this year.’’
What exactly it says is a little bit of a cypher. Gray has stumbled out of the starting blocks in 2016, going 3-3 with a 4.84 ERA in six starts.
That’s his highest ERA at any point in the three-plus seasons Gray has been a big league starting pitcher. And the seven earned runs matched his career high, set on Aug. 6, 2014 against the Rays and again on Sept. 14, 2015 against the White Sox.
Tuesday night was, Gray said, “a weird game.’’
“You pitch into the eighth inning and you come out with a bad start,’’ Gray said. “It’s a really weird game tonight.
“I thought I threw the ball well. That’s definitely the best I’ve felt all year. It was really unfortunate the way it turned out.’’
The A’s were more-or-less within striking distance after seven innings, down 4-1. But the Mariners opened the eighth with a double and two singles, knocking Gray out of the game. And reliever Marc Rzepczynski was clobbered Kyle Seager, who took all the mystery out of the game with a three-run homer.
“It’s important to get to the eighth inning,’’ Gray said. “But you look back, and I didn’t really do my job. I didn’t put us in with a good chance to win. Pitching into the eighth is good and all, but not when you give up seven runs. It’s just a weird game.’’
The early homers were something of an anomaly. Gray hadn’t given up more than one homer in a game in eight consecutive starts dating back to last year, when he allowed 17 in the entire season. He’s allowed five with five months of the season yet to play.
“I hung a curveball a little in, and he turned on it,’’ Gray said in describing the first homer from Leonys Martin in the second inning. Robinson Cano went deep to open the third.
“The second one, I had a feeling he was going to swing. I left it up, and he got it. I felt great. They got those two big home runs, then they added on in the eighth.
In my other starts, I was a little sporadic with location and I was not throwing strikes. Tonight I felt great. I didn’t feel any different than I felt the previous two years. It’s just not really going my way.’’