Sonny Gray is acknowledging his control hasn't been what he'd like it to be, but it's been rare for the Oakland Athletics ace to allow walks to pile up like they have been.
He'll try to recover from the shortest start of his career Tuesday night at home as the Seattle Mariners try for yet another series win.
Gray (3-2, 3.81 ERA) gave up four runs and two hits with four walks and a hit batter in two innings of Wednesday's 9-4 loss in Detroit as his single-season ERA climbed over 3.00 for the first time since ending 2014 at 3.08. It never went over his season-ending 2.73 mark last year.
The right-hander has walked more than three batters 10 times in his career, and only once – last year – has he strung together two such starts. But that still doesn't mean his walk rate through five starts isn't more concerning than past seasons. Last season, it took Gray seven starts to issue 15 walks and seven came in one outing. This year, it happened in five with 4.76 walks per nine innings after posting a 2.55 mark over his 31 2015 starts.
“I've been out of the zone more than I've wanted early in the season, but until tonight, it hadn't hurt me. I've had some close calls, but I've been able to get out of them,” Gray said. “Tonight, I didn't have anything. I don't remember a start like this, where every breaking ball I threw was awful and I couldn't locate anything.”
He's 4-1 with a 2.14 ERA in nine starts against the Mariners. Seattle could elect to hold Chris Iannetta (1 for 15) out of the lineup, while newcomer Leonys Martin is 4 for 30 with 10 strikeouts in the matchup.
The Mariners are also waiting on Hisashi Iwakuma (0-3, 4.65) to settle in. The right-hander gave up five runs and seven hits in five innings of Wednesday's 7-4 home loss to Houston and has posted his highest WHIP (1.42) and opponent batting average (.289) through his first five starts of any of his five seasons.
Iwakuma has never gone six straight starts without a win in a single season.
“I thought overall my fastball was all right,” he said. “I did lose command a couple pitches but when I needed to execute I couldn't execute and they made me pay for that.”
Iwakuma has won three of his four starts in Oakland, and that sticks with the trend for the team at the moment. Seattle (14-11), which opened the series with Monday's 4-3 victory, is 13-5 there since dropping two of three in April 2014.
The Mariners are yet to lose a road series, going 9-4, and they also won two of three in both their recent home sets to put them on the verge of winning six straight series for the first time since May 18-June 5, 2011.
Robinson Cano has finally taken an active role while going 5 for 8 in the last two games after finishing April batting .226. His double Monday made him the fifth second baseman in MLB history to have at least 2,000 hits, 450 doubles, 200 home runs and 1,000 RBIs along with Rogers Hornsby, Roberto Alomar, Jeff Kent and Craig Biggio.
The A's (13-14) are an AL worst 5-9 at home and have scored six runs while batting .198 in their last three. Khris Davis homered twice Monday, but his .709 OPS is still 119 points lower than his last season with Milwaukee.
''When you get with a new team, at times you try to impress a little bit,'' manager Bob Melvin said.