Archives for May 19, 2017
Where: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland
OAKLAND – Oakland starting pitcher Sonny Gray produced a blast from the past, and the Oakland A’s right-hander was rewarded with his first victory in nearly 10 months on Thursday night at the Oakland Coliseum.
Sonny Gray Against the Sox
Gray allowed three runs on four hits over six innings in an 8-3 victory against the Boston Red Sox. He struck out a season-high eight and walked two in his 100th career major league start.
The victory was the first for Gray (1-1) since July 26, 2016. He beat Boston for the first time in four career starts, giving him at least one win against every American League team except Oakland.
“I wasn’t aware of how long, but as a pitcher you want to win games,” Gray said of his victory drought. “Everything else will come as is, but when you go out there, you want to start a game that the team wins, and I think that’s the most important thing as a pitcher, is to win. It’s nice to get a win, for sure, and hopefully I can put together some good starts from here and get some more.”
Gray had two stints on the disabled list last year when he went 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA, and he started this season on the DL with a strained right shoulder. On Thursday, he pitched more like the ace who went 33-20 over his first three seasons with Oakland.
“It’s huge,” A’s catcher Stephen Vogt said. “He’s our anchor, our ace. To see him throw like that tonight, that’s him. When he’s going and doing what he does best, we feel good every time he takes the mound.”
The A’s gave Gray plenty of offensive support. Jed Lowrie hit a two-run homer and added Khris Davis a solo blast in the first inning. Chad Pinder belted a two-run shot in the fourth for the A’s, who were coming off a 1-5 road trip. Trevor Plouffe went 3-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and two runs.
Mitch Moreland hit a solo home run in the fourth inning for Boston, which was coming off a 5-4, 13-inning victory Wednesday night at St. Louis. Dustin Pedroia went 2-for-4 and scored a run.
Red Sox right-hander Hector Velazquez (0-1) allowed six runs on nine hits, including three home runs, over five innings in his major league debut. Velazquez, a 28-year-old whose contract was purchased by Boston from the Mexican League on Feb. 18, was called up from Triple-A on Thursday. He was 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA in five starts for Pawtucket.
“I felt good,” Velazquez said. “Out of the gate I felt a little bit emotional with it being my first big league game, so my adrenaline was up there and getting under control was a little hard. So unfortunately I had a bad inning, but I felt good.”
The A’s went 1-5 against Boston last season and were outscored 67-20.
Oakland led 6-3 after four innings Thursday and added two runs in the sixth.
“The middle innings, we’re still very much in the game,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “The two runs in the sixth, that was kind of a big separation where they were able to create a little more distance.
“On a late night coming in here, you have probably a couple of pushes from an offensive standpoint where you need some leadership from the mound, but that wasn’t the case tonight.”
The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning off Gray. Mookie Betts lined a leadoff single, moved to third on Pedroia’s infield single and scored on Hanley Ramirez’s single to left with one out. Gray walked Moreland, loading the bases, and Chris Young hit a sacrifice fly.
The A’s answered with three runs in the bottom of the first. Lowrie launched Velazquez’s 3-2 curveball over the center field fence for a two-run homer with one out, his fifth home run of the season. Davis followed with a blast to right-center for his 12th home run. He crushed a 0-2 changeup, giving Oakland back-to-back homers for the first time this season.
“I really wasn’t really ready to pitch there in the first, and they made me pay for it, but to be able to get out of that inning with two runs, and the offense putting up a three-spot right after that, that was really the kick I needed to try to put up some zeros from there,” Gray said.
Boston pulled even in the fourth when Moreland led off with a home run to left-center off Gray, his third blast of the year. The home run was Moreland’s 17th all-time against Oakland and 12th at the Coliseum.
The A’s scored three times in the bottom of the fourth to build a 6-3 lead. Ryon Healy lined a leadoff single and scored on a double by Plouffe, who extended his hitting streak to nine games. Pinder followed with a two-run shot into the left-field seats, hitting Velazquez’s first pitch.
“I left some pitches up in the zone and unfortunately they hit them out of the park,” Velazquez said.
NOTES: The Red Sox designated INF/OF Chase d’Arnaud for assignment, opening a spot on the 25-man roster for RHP Hector Velazquez. … A’s 1B Yonder Alonso (sore left knee) was out of the lineup Thursday and will likely miss at least two games. He was injured Wednesday during an at-bat at Seattle. An MRI revealed no structural damage. … Red Sox OF Andrew Benintendi, who is in an 0-for-26 slump, did not play Thursday but is expected to start on Friday night against the A’s.
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville
IRVING – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) — A group of the best golfers in the world tried to tame the blustery conditions as well as the challenging course at the TPC Las Colinas in the first round of the AT&T Byron Nelson on Thursday in Irving, Texas. Two were up to the task, as James Hahn and Ricky Barnes fired dual 6-under 64s early in the day before the really strong winds kicked in and garnered a two-stroke lead in this northwest suburb of Dallas.
Scores in the afternoon averaged more than two strokes higher (70.88 to 72.96) than in the morning as the winds whipped and swirled around the course.
Hahn, who won twice on the PGA Tour (most recently at the Wells Fargo Championship in 2016), recorded six birdies without a bogey on his round. He found the fairway on 12 of his 14 opportunities and hit all but one green in regulation while playing for pars and avoiding looking at either his scorecard or the leaderboard.
“It’s playing tough out there,” Hahn said. “You know, once you start counting up your strokes in the middle of the round it’s kind of when things go haywire. I did a good job of staying in the present, just making sure that I put myself in a position where I at least made par and judged the wind. I had a great conversation with my caddy on almost every hole trying to leave ourselves the best opportunity for a birdie.”
Barnes, the 2002 U.S. Amateur champion, had an inconsistent scorecard that featured eight birdies — including four in five holes on the front nine — and two bogeys.
“I almost birdied half of them and I had two looks coming in so yeah, I’m very happy,” Barnes said. “I played solid, kept the hole in front of me even though I didn’t hit many fairways. My distance control was very good today. I think that’s what leads to birdies out here. If you get in the right sections of these greens you can get good looks.”
Matt Kuchar, Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela, Jason Kokrak and Cameron Tringale are two strokes back after carding 66s. Tringale was the only member of the group playing in the afternoon wave.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Bud Cauley, Brooks Koepka, John Huh, Sean O’Hair, Ryan Armour and Peter Malnati settled in another shot in arrears after shooting 67s.
Johnson two-putted from 90 feet on the 18th hole to stay a part of the group.
“I felt like I hit a lot of good shots and ended up in really bad spots due to the wind conditions blowing really hard and it’s gusty, which made it tough,” Johnson said. “It was tough to judge the distance, tough putting, tough all around.”
Local favorite and world No. 6 Jordan Spieth, fourth-ranked Jason Day of Australia and Scott Piercy headed a list of 12 players at 68. Eight of those golfers played in the morning wave.
“Hopefully the wind can be a little bit calmer tomorrow morning for us and we can get out and get a good one in and try and just work our way up the leaderboard,” Day said.
Defending champion and recent Masters champion Sergio Garcia struggled with his putting and stumbled to a 73 on Thursday. It was his second-highest opening round in 13 appearances at this event. He shot 75 in 2006.
Garcia did not address the media after the round, opting to head straight to the practice putting green to get in some work.
A handful of notable golfers likely played their way out of the tournament after dreadful opening rounds, including Shell Houston Open winner Freddie Jacobson of Sweden, Bryce Molder, Ryan Moore and 2011 Byron Nelson champion Keegan Bradley (all at 74), Hunter Mahan, Tony Finau, Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa and 2009 Nelson champion Rory Sabbatini of South Africa (all at 75), Russell Henley, J.B. Holmes and Australia’s Stuart Appleby (at 76), and 2015
Nelson titlist Steven Bowditch, who managed to shoot 80.
NOTES: The 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson is being played in the 35th and final year in Irving, Texas, at the TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas. In 2018, the tournament will move to Trinity Forest Golf Club (a links-style course designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore), located just 10 minutes south of downtown Dallas. … Sixteen of the past 22 winners of this tournament recorded all four rounds in the 60s. The exceptions: Keegan Bradley (2011), Jason Day of Australia (2010), Adam Scott of Australia (2008), Brett Wetterich (2006), Sergio Garcia of Spain (2004) and Jesper Parnevik of Sweden (2000). … The current course record of 60 at the TPC Las Colinas was set by Keegan Bradley in 2013. Other 60s in tournament history have been posted by Arron Oberholser (Cottonwood Valley in 2006) and Sam Snead (1957 at Glen Lake Country Club)