Oakland — On a day Sonny Gray recorded a season-high 11 strikeouts on his way to delivering his most dominant outing of 2017, the right-hander provided a simple explanation for his vintage performance.
“I feel healthy,” Gray said following the Oakland Athletics’ 4-1 win over the Miami Marlins on Wednesday afternoon. “I’m not doing anything different. There’s nothing that clicked. There’s nothing that mechanically I changed. There’s nothing that I’m trying to do differently. I just feel healthy. I feel like I can do what I want to do with the ball again.”
In the triumph, which salvaged a split in the midweek mini-series, Gray set down the first nine Marlins he faced — including six via strikeout. The right-hander added three more punchouts in the fourth, but also let in his only run when Dee Gordon raced home from third on a wild pitch that resulted in a strikeout of Marcell Ozuna.
“When he’s at his best, he’s getting strikeouts, he’s getting bad swings on his breaking balls, good command of his heater, low pitch count — all of the above,” manager Bob Melvin said. “And each time out he gets better.”
Melvin on Sonny: “Each time out he gets better.” pic.twitter.com/LIyLnMoQA5
— Karl Buscheck (@KarlBuscheck) May 24, 2017
During his seven innings of one-run ball, Gray needed only 88 pitches to ring up his 11 K’s.
“That’s what the really good ones do is, they have a level and then they have another level when they need it,” Melvin said. “We saw everything that makes him who he is today.”
Khris Davis staked Gray to an immediate 2-0 advantage in the bottom of the first, blasting his 14th home run into the right-field bleachers.
“I think once Davis hit the home run, he was in control,” Melvin said of his right-hander.
Davis’ two-run shot came right before a two-out double from Jed Lowrie. The second baseman’s two-base hit was the first of two he’d collect on a day he recorded his first four-game hit in over 13 months.
Lowrie went 13-for-25 on the 4-2 homestand, pushing his average to .300 on the season.
“Physically, he feels better than he ever has,” Melvin said. “Durability wise, he’s been out there more. I consistently talk to him about DH days, he says, ‘No. I want to play.’ His defense is better. The surgeries he had [in the offseason] were very impactful for him.”
Wahl hits DL, Hahn could soon follow
Before Gray faced the Fish, the club put Bobby Wahl on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder — the 14th player to hit the shelf.
Jesse Hahn — who exited Tuesday night’s start with a right triceps strain — could be No. 15. Melvin said the A’s are awaiting results on the right-hander’s MRI.