Oakland, CA – Sonny Gray returned to the mound last night after being scratched on Opening Day with food poisoning. He gave the A’s their first win of the season with a 2-1 victory over the White Sox. A combination of good pitching and great defense kept Chicago limited to run.
He worked around four walks, struck out five and outdueled White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon for seven frames allowing one run on three hits. After Gray issued a free pass to the leadoff man, Adam Eaton in the first. He retired the next three batters before giving up his second walk of the game.
“Sonny was Sonny,” said Oakland’s manager Bob Melvin. “We’ve seen him pitch that type of game often, especially when we’ve lost a couple of tough ones. I think he even gets more inspired to be the guy to go out there and go deep in the game and giving us a chance to win.”
The A’s wasted no time getting on the board early, Billy Burns leadoff the bottom of the frame with a single up the middle. Khris Davis followed with a single to center field and Jed Lowrie’s sacrifice fly to right field drove in Burns for the 1-0 lead in the first. But Oakland didn’t stop there, by the second they were up 2-0 and that was enough for the win.
“It was a big game for us, you definitely don’t want to start 0-3,” said Gray. “We needed a deeper start. It was a pretty important game for it being as early in the season as it is, but it was fun to go out there for sure.”
Avoiding a 0-3 start, the A’s snapped their season-opening two-game losing streak and snapped a six-game losing streak against Chicago at the Coliseum, which was the longest home losing streak to the White Sox-AL since Aug 3,1989 to Sept 18, 990 when they also dropped six straight.
Mark Canha provided the essential hit of the night, he played first base on Opening Day but was moved to right field last night. Canha blasted Oakland’s first home run of the season going deep to right field on the first pitch in the second. Chicago cut lead in half in the third when Jimmy Rollins drove in Austin Jackson with a sacrifice fly making it a 2-1 game.
“We were chasing some stuff away. He had good movement on that when he needed to,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura on Gray’s night. “Caught us being aggressive and wasn’t throwing strikes when we were looking for strikes. He probably wasn’t feeling that great but he’s still a very talented pitcher and he has great stuff.”
The A’s rallied a double play in the fifth and kept Chicago from scoring a potential run. Alex Avila hit a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Gray. Jackson then lined into a double play, to second baseman Jed Lowrie to shortstop Marcus Semien who picked off Avila on second. By the sixth Gray put two on but Oakland’s defense ended the threat.
Eaton led off with a single, both Rollins and Jose Abreu grounded out and Gray walked Todd Fraizer before forcing Melky Cabrera to ground out to end the frame. The bullpen added a few scoreless innings, both John Axford and Ryan Madson came up big behind their ace to hold off the White Sox who lead the series 2-1. Madson earned his first save of the season and extended his regular season scoreless streak to 14 games.
“The emotions are a little heightened, and in a tight game, there’s no room for error,” Madson said. “I guess from here on out, I’ll be a little more calm if I get another chance to do it. But it’s just good to get that one out of the way.”