OAKLAND, Calif. — With his phone buzzing nonstop after rumors circulated that he’d been scratched from his scheduled start, Athletics pitcher Sonny Gray did the only thing he could to shut out the noise: He stashed the device away.
Then the Oakland ace helped shut out the Cleveland Indians with another strong start that is sure to keep Gray a hot topic in trade conversations.
Gray and three relievers combined on a four-hitter, and Oakland beat Cleveland 5-0 on Friday night to spoil the return of Indians manager Terry Francona.
“It’s hard when you get 50 text messages 45 minutes before the game,” Gray said. “That’s where you just put your phone away and go to a place where you can just block everything out and get ready for the game. That’s what I tried to do.”
Gray (5-4) allowed two hits over six innings with five strikeouts and one walk in one of his strongest outings this season. Both hits came in the third, one an infield single by Erik Gonzalez.
“He’s pitched really well since he’s come back,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said about Gray. “Once he’s gotten a little bit on a roll as far as pitching deeper into games and being healthy, we’re seeing what we’re getting right now and we’ve seen it a lot before.”
The bullpen took care of the final nine outs for Oakland. Santiago Casilla got three for his 16th save.
It was the third shutout by the A’s this season.
Gray has been the subject of trade speculation for a few weeks and will undoubtedly remain part of discussions with the non-waiver deadline just more than two weeks away. He says he hasn’t heard from management whether he’s being shopped around.
“It would be nice to have some feedback I guess, but that’s not how it works,” Gray said.
Yonder Alonso and Rajai Davis homered in the fifth inning. Matt Joyce doubled, scored and drove in a run to help the A’s win the series opener after dropping three of four in Cleveland earlier this season.
Francona returned to the bench following a six-game absence when he underwent a minor procedure for an irregular heartbeat last week. The Cleveland skipper had also been scheduled to manage the American League in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game but had to skip it.
The Indians were blanked for the fourth time in their last 17 games and sixth time overall.
“(Gray) was commanding from the beginning. We never were able to get much going at all,” Francona said. “Everything was down and off of the fastball, and in the same location was that fading changeup.”
Davis homered leading off the fifth against starter Carlos Carrasco (10-4). Davis also singled and scored Oakland’s first run in the third.
Alonso, the A’s lone All-Star, hit his 21st home run three batters later.
Carrasco fanned 10 but lost to Oakland for the first time in five career starts. The right-hander allowed five runs over 6 1/3 innings and walked two.
The Indians went into the day with the third-best record in the AL but lost to begin their weeklong stay in Northern California. Following the three-game series in Oakland, Cleveland heads across the San Francisco Bay to play three games at AT&T Park against the Giants.
Davis reached on an infield single and scored the A’s first run in the third inning on Joyce’s double. Davis hesitated rounding second and needed a headfirst slide at home plate to beat the relay throw from Gonzalez. “We probably get him if Gonzy keeps it on the infield side,” Francona said. “We had a real legit shot there.”
Athletics: RHP Andrew Triggs underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. Triggs went 5-6 with a 4.27 ERA in 12 starts. … C Ryan Lavarnway was sent outright to Triple-A Nashville. Lavarnway was called up when Josh Phegley went on the paternity list.
RHP Corey Kluber (7-3, 2.80 ERA) makes his second start against Oakland this season on Saturday. Kluber pitched six innings of a 1-0 win June 1. The A’s will go with rookie RHP Paul Blackburn (1-0, 0.66 ERA).
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