Gray, Oakland's potential trade chip, faces White Sox (Jul 05, 2017)

BY AP • July 5, 2017

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Sonny Gray could be making his final home start for the Oakland Athletics when he faces the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday in the finale of a three-game series.

Gray will duel White Sox right-hander Mike Pelfrey, himself a former highly regarded prospect who has bounced around a bit in his career.

The teams split the first two games of the series, with the A's drawing even on 21-year-old Franklin Barreto's walk-off home run with one out in the ninth inning of a 7-6 win Tuesday.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria boarded the bus back to the hotel proud of his team's effort nonetheless.

"I didn't see that coming at all," he said of Barreto's homer, "so tip your cap to the kid over there. He put a really good at-bat together. Just tip your cap because that's just baseball."

As are trades, at least when it comes to A's stars such as Gio Gonzalez, Josh Donaldson, Josh Reddick and Rich Hill in recent years.

Gray (3-4, 4.09 ERA) is a candidate to join that list. He isn't scheduled to pitch again until after the All-Star break, during which trade talks are expected to heat up in advance of the July 31 deadline.

If the Athletics' goal is to trade their most marketable piece when he is hot, the timing to deal Gray could be right in the next week.

He is coming off two of his best efforts of the season, limiting the White Sox and Atlanta Braves to a total of six hits and two earned runs in 15 innings.

Gray will be looking to make it three straight quality starts Wednesday against a White Sox team that has never beaten him. He is 2-0 with a 4.13 ERA in four career starts against Chicago. That includes a victory on June 25 when Gray allowed two runs (one earned) and four hits in seven innings.

The 27-year-old is in his fifth season with the A's after having been their first-round pick in 2011. A 2015 All-Star, Gray has compiled a 41-35 record for Oakland.

He will be facing a White Sox team that has prevailed in eight of its past 10 games in Oakland. Chicago nearly made it nine of 10 on Tuesday.

"Maybe this gives us a little momentum," A's manager Bob Melvin said after his team snapped a season-worst, six-game losing streak. "That (Barreto walk-off home run) was pretty exciting."

Gray's counterpart Wednesday, Pelfrey, likewise began his pro career as a first-round pick, chosen ninth overall by the New York Mets in 2005.

Pelfrey (3-6, 4.13 ERA) hasn't lived up the hype, recording a 68-97 record for the Mets, the Detroit Tigers, the Minnesota Twins and the White Sox.

Like Gray, Pelfrey will enter the series finale on a bit of a roll, having gone 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA in his past three road outings.

The 33-year-old has never beaten the A's, posting an 0-5 record and 7.56 ERA in five career meetings.

He gave up a pair of home runs -- one apiece to Khris Davis and Matt Joyce -- in a 3-0 home loss to the A's on June 23. He was pulled after 4 2/3 innings that day, having allowed five hits, four walks and three runs.

Joyce also homered, a two-run shot, on Tuesday.

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