OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Sonny Gray spoiled more than one debut with his dazzling display on opening day.
Yovani Gallardo lost his first start in a Texas uniform and Jeff Banister bounced back from the flu only to drop his initial game as a manager, with Gray carrying a no-hit bid into the eighth inning of Oakland’s 8-0 romp over the Rangers on Monday night.
“We had an approach, we had a plan,” Banister said. “But you can put all those things together and the guy on the mound, when he’s pretty good, he has a say-so in the outcome also.”
The right-hander didn’t allow a hit until Ryan Rua singled leading off the eighth inning, and the Athletics snapped their record 10-game losing streak on opening day.
Trying to join Bob Feller (1940) as the only pitchers to throw a no-hitter in a season opener, Gray dazzled through seven innings and allowed only two baserunners before Rua’s sharp grounder to right field. Fans in the sellout crowd of 36,067 chanted “Sonny! Sonny!” and offered a roaring ovation.
“The team in general had a bunch of good at-bats, a bunch of hard-hit balls that they made some great plays on,” Rua said. “He threw all his pitches for strikes whenever he wanted to.”
Ben Zobrist backed Gray’s gem with a two-run homer in the first and also had a double in his Oakland debut. Stephen Vogt added a three-run shot in the seventh.
New designated hitter Billy Butler hit an RBI double as the A’s won their opener for the first time since beating Texas on April 5, 2004.
Oakland’s 10-game skid on opening day was the longest in major league history.
Gray (1-0) walked one and struck out three in his 98-pitch performance. Evan Scribner worked a perfect ninth to finish the one-hitter.
Given the A’s didn’t want to jinx Gray by talking to him, he was quick to greet Vogt with a chest bump when Vogt returned to the dugout after his homer.
Gray arrived at the Coliseum at 1 p.m. and spent hours throwing a ball at the wall as he waited.
“I felt good in the bullpen and I knew during the player entrances and stuff we were all ready for this game,” Gray said.
Gray plunked No. 9 hitter Rougned Odor with a pitch in the third for the Rangers’ first baserunner. Zobrist dropped Leonys Martin’s fly to left for a two-base error in the sixth.
Prince Fielder hit a sharp liner to start the seventh but it went straight to right fielder Craig Gentry. Moments later, second baseman Eric Sogard made a sliding stop on a hard-hit grounder by Adrian Beltre. Gray then struck out Shin-Soo Choo.
Gray needed only 83 pitches to get through seven. The 25-year-old beginning his second full big league season drew his second consecutive opening-day assignment, the first A’s pitcher to do so since lefty Barry Zito in 2005 and 2006. Zito is now back with his original organization pitching at Triple-A Nashville.
Gallardo (0-1) was chased after four innings following five straight opening-day assignments with the Brewers. The right-hander allowed four runs and six hits, struck out five and walked one but threw two wild pitches among his 89 pitches.
“I was battling throughout the whole game,” Gallardo said. “The command wasn’t there.”
On a night when retired infielders Mark Ellis and Eric Chavez threw out the ceremonial first pitches, Oakland fans were introduced to a largely new team featuring only nine players remaining from the 2014 opening-day roster. The Coliseum also introduced a new $10 million high-definition scoreboard that included a tribute to Hall of Fame broadcaster Lon Simmons a day after his death at age 91.
Fielder went 0 for 4 with a strikeout after missing most of 2014 following a cervical fusion of two disks in his neck last May, ending his then-major league-best streak of 547 consecutive games played since 2010. He hadn’t missed consecutive games since August 2007.
Rangers: After missing a few days with the flu, including Texas’ final exhibition game, Banister met his coaches for breakfast before grabbing a bit more rest and heading to the ballpark. He arrived at noon. “Alive, brother, I’m alive,” he said with a grin.
Athletics: Left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle threw from 75 feet as he recovers from a shoulder injury.
Rangers: RHP Colby Lewis starts against his former team Tuesday night.
Athletics: RHP Jesse Hahn will make his A’s debut in his first outing vs. Texas after being acquired from the Padres in December.