OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Sonny Gray has no idea whether he will be traded or not, yet he soaked in the standing ovation when he walked off the Coliseum mound nonetheless.
Gray struck out six pitching into the seventh in what might have been his final home start in Oakland if the club tries to deal him before the trade deadline, and the Athletics rallied in the fifth inning to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-2 on Wednesday.
“It was nice,” Gray said of the greeting from his home fans. “I’ve had a lot of times coming off the mound getting some nice ovations, some cheers. It took me back to 2013 a lot and those two playoff games. It was really nice, and whether it is or whether it’s not, it’s not up to me. But it brought back a lot of memories.”
Matt Joyce hit a towering homer to the right-field seats in the eighth for Oakland.
Rajai Davis doubled home Oakland’s first run in the fifth then Joyce followed with a tying sacrifice fly before Davis scurried home with the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.
Gray (6-4) won his third straight start and fourth in five. When speculation arose from the White Sox side before his Friday outing that the right-hander had been scratched because of a possible deal, the A’s quickly announced that he was indeed taking the mound for his scheduled outing.
After a pair of one-run defeats to begin this series, the A’s avoided being swept by the Rays in Oakland for the first time.
Gray allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings with two walks.
Manager Bob Melvin has seen enough players go, he didn’t want to ponder what is next for Gray.
“I try not to think too much about that because when you have a group of guys that you’re dealing with, that’s basically what your focus is,” Melvin said. “And I’ve had him for a while, so I just kind of go with the flow as far as that goes.”
The Rays got three straight singles off Gray to start the fourth inning, including an RBI single by Wilson Ramos. Brad Miller also drove in a run on a groundout.
But Oakland finally got to Tampa Bay right-hander Jake Faria (4-1) in the fifth. With seven straight quality starts to begin his career, Faria took his first big league loss.
A’s All-Star Yonder Alonso hit an RBI single in the inning, when Faria had two of his four walks. He allowed six hits and four runs in five innings, striking out four.
Alonso was thrown out at home in the first when he tried to go from first on Khris Davis’ double to right. The throw beat him so handily Alonso didn’t even try to slide and instead ran behind the plate before turning for the dugout.
RF Steven Souza Jr. said he felt much better after the game after exiting in the first with a strained left hip. He was hurt trying to steal second after drawing a leadoff walk to start the game. Shane Peterson replaced him. X-rays were negative and Souza will be re-evaluated and have an MRI once the team arrives home.
“I went to slide and it was extremely muddy around second base,” Souza said. “My leg got stuck in the ground and I just kind of felt a jump in my hip. That didn’t feel very great.”
Rays: Of Souza, manager Kevin Cash said: “We’re actually pretty optimistic that we avoided a major injury. He’s going to go to tomorrow to have some major testing done.” … Cash said LHP Blake Snell would take his next turn despite being winless at 0-5 with a 4.98 ERA in 11 starts.
Athletics: The A’s hope to have Chad Pinder back from the DL and a strained left hamstring when they return home from an upcoming seven-game trip to the New York Mets and Toronto. Melvin plans to use him as a utilityman. … RHP Kendall Graveman allowed five hits and four runs with one strikeout and a walk on 46 pitches in 2 1/3 innings with Triple-A Nashville rehabbing his strained pitching shoulder. RHP Jharel Cotton (blister on his right thumb) also pitched in the game, striking out six in 3 1/3 innings, while Pinder was 0 for 2 with a walk and strikeout for the Sounds.
Rays: With the Rays back home, RHP Alex Cobb (8-6, 3.59 ERA) takes the ball in Friday’s series opener against Yu Darvish and Texas having not faced the Rangers since April 6, 2014.
Athletics: After Thursday’s day off following a cross-country flight, RHP Paul Blackburn (1-0, 1.83 ERA) pitches the series opener at the Mets in his fourth career start.
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