Gray throws three-hitter for A’s after Darvish exits early for Rangers
Sonny Gray came off the mound and into the Oakland dugout after the eighth inning purposely trying to avoid contact with manager Bob Melvin.
Gray, clearly the best pitcher on this night in a matchup against Rangers ace Yu Darvish, wanted to finish what he started.
"I normally talk to him, share a laugh, make something up," Gray said. "I put my head down and he goes, `How are you feeling?’ I just yelled `Great!" and kept walking. . . . Yeah, I wanted to go back out there."
The right-hander did pitch the ninth, wrapping up a three-hitter for his first career complete game as the Athletics beat Texas 4-0 on Monday night in Darvish’s shortest outing in the major leagues.
Gray (4-1) allowed only three singles while striking out six. He threw 73 of 108 pitches for strikes in his 16th career start.
"I felt like telling him he better getting it done under 110 (pitches), but that’s probably the wrong thing to tell a guy when he goes out for the ninth," Melvin said with a smile. "Usually he looks at me and has a conversation with me when he’s coming in and he didn’t even look at me after the eighth."
Texas got only one runner to third base against the 24-year-old Gray, who threw two wild pitches in the sixth after Robinson Chirinos singled.
Darvish (1-1) was gone after 3-1/3 innings, pulled after walking No. 9 batter Eric Sogard for the second time. Those were the only two walks for the right-hander, who allowed four runs and six hits while throwing 83 pitches (45 strikes). Darvish is winless his past nine home starts.
"The first few innings I thought he mixed (pitches) pretty good," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "I thought he tried to throw everything at them. . . . They found a way to put balls in play. They found a way to score runs."
Josh Donaldson had a two-run single in the third, and the A’s made it 4-0 an inning later when Josh Reddick had an RBI triple and came home on Daric Barton’s sacrifice fly.
Oakland and Texas entered tied for the American League West lead and the league’s best record at 15-10. The Rangers, shut out for the first time this season, had swept a three-game series in Oakland last week.
Gray walked Rangers leadoff hitter Michael Choice, but got out of the first with a fielder’s choice grounder and a 4-5-3 double play with three Oakland infielders shifted to right side against Prince Fielder.
"The first couple of hitters it looked like what he usually does in the first where from time to time," Melvin said. "After that it was as well of a pitched game as I’ve seen in a while."
Choice grounded into an inning-ending double play in the third after the bottom two batters reached base.
Darvish made his 66th start for Texas since signing from Japan before the 2012 season. His shortest previous MLB outing had been four innings at Seattle his rookie season, though he went only 1-1/3 innings in Japan start in 2006.
Darvish struck out four, but three of those came in the first five batters of the game.
The A’s are 7-1 in their nine games against Darvish, who last week got a no-decision in Oakland after going six innings and leaving a 3-3 tie before Texas won 4-3.
After Donaldson’s big hit, a bouncer through the left side of the infield out of the reach of diving third baseman Adrian Beltre, the A’s had the bases reloaded on a one-out single by Brandon Moss.
Moss was thrown out retreating to first on a pitch that got away from catcher Chirinos, though the runner was originally ruled safe before Rangers manager Washington challenged and got the play overturned by replay. When Moss slid back in, his foot was against first baseman Fielder’s foot — and not the base — while being tagged.
Washington lost a challenge in the eighth when thought Reddick was out on a pickoff attempt diving back to first with Barton batting. Reddick was called safe, and replay confirmed the call before Barton hit a deep flyball.
Center fielder Leonys Martin made a leaping catch on the warning back and threw to first base. Reddick was initially called safe by crew chief Jeff Nelson, who then initiated a replay and changed his call for an inning-ending double play.
"That’s a first, two replays with the same guy sliding into the same base," Melvin said. "That’s part of the game now."
NOTES: Rangers OF Shin-Soo Choo was out of the starting lineup for the sixth consecutive game because of a left ankle sprain, but flew out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. . . . A’s OF Yoenis Cespedes missed his fourth game in a row (strained left hamstring). Manager Bob Melvin said it’s 50-50 he’ll be back in the starting lineup Tuesday. . . . Game 2 features a standout matchup of left-handers. Oakland’s Scott Kazmir (3-0, 1.62 ERA) pitches against Martin Perez (4-0, 1.42), who has thrown 26 consecutive scoreless innings his last three starts. Perez has two consecutive three-hit shutouts, the last coming Wednesday in Oakland.