Rays, Faria hope to stay on roll versus A's (Jul 19, 2017)

BY AP • July 19, 2017

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Right-hander Jake Faria went a combined 5-10 with a 3.99 ERA for Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham last season.

This year, Faria is 4-0 with a 2.00 ERA and has quality starts in all seven of his major league outings for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Faria has made a smoother transition to the big leagues than probably anyone could have expected. He will try to keep his hot start going Wednesday afternoon when the Rays try for a three-game sweep against the Oakland Athletics and right-hander Sonny Gray at the Oakland Coliseum.

"It think it's just following the game plan," Faria said Tuesday before the Rays' 4-3, comeback victory over the A's. "That's really been a big key, just the info that the coaching staff brings, just trusting what they're giving us and trusting what the catcher's been putting down.

"I don't know these hitters. They do. So whatever they're putting down, I'm trusting that that's going to work. That's really been it. And then in between each start, if there's something from the previous game that wasn't working, try to iron it out and take it into the next game. That's really what's been getting me through it so far."

Faria, a 10th-round draft pick in 2011 out of Gahr High School in Cerritos, Calif., is coming off a gem Friday night against the Los Angeles Angels, the team he grew up watching at Angel Stadium. He gave up one run on five hits over 6 2/3 innings and got a no-decision in Tampa Bay's 2-1 victory with some 200 of his friends and family members in the stands.

"It was cool," said Faria, who was 6-1 for Durham this season before making his major league debut on July 7 in a 3-1 victory against the Chicago White Sox. "I could hear everybody, all the cheers. That was pretty cool. Just looking up in the stands, where we used to sit, all the different places me and my brother used to walk around."

Faria said his rooting section Wednesday will probably shrink to five or six, including his fiancee, when he faces the A's for the first time.

Gray (5-4, 3.72 ERA) will be coming into the game hot, too. He is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a .122 opponents' batting average over his past four starts.

"I feel like he's had consistency with all of his pitches," A's catcher Bruce Maxwell said of Gray. "He's got a good game plan we devise before the game, and I think he's stuck to it. He's battled. That's what we're looking for.

"He's been on a really good roll, and he continues to prove that he is what he used to be a couple years ago, so it's good to be behind him. He's got a good pace to hm. I look forward to another quality start from him (Wednesday)."

Gray has been at the top of his game despite dealing with trade rumors for weeks. Less than an hour before his last start on Friday against the Cleveland Indians, he received 45 or 50 text messages about a Tweet out of Chicago that he had been scratched from his start. As it turned out, he wasn't scratched -- or traded -- and he pitched six scoreless innings in a 5-0 victory.

"At the end of the day in this business, it's all hearsay until you get that finalized note," Maxwell said. "I think he's focused on his role for this team and this team only. He just kind of lets everything pan out for itself on the other end."

Gray is 2-2 with a 4.07 ERA in eight career starts against the Rays. He had a no-decision in his only previous start this season against Tampa Bay on June 10 in the first game of a doubleheader at Tropicana Field. Gray gave up five runs (two earned) on nine hits over six innings in a 6-5, 10-inning loss.

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