In the recent past, the Oakland Athletics do not usually have the type of season that one would call “normal.” It’s not often that they finish in the middle of the pack, not often that they even have the same players as the year prior and, it’s actually quite often that a lot of their great performances come from kids that have just been called up to the big leagues.
He pitched two innings in Pittsburgh during interleague play in his first big league appearance. Gray allowed just one hit while striking out three batters in his debut.
He continued on to appear in 11 more games during the 2013 regular season, starting ten and posting a 2.67 ERA.
“I wasn’t watching him pitch,” Gray said. “I was just sitting in the dugout, just getting myself ready for the next inning. I wasn’t really looking into it as facing Justin Verlander … If I do that, one of their hitters is going to get you. They’ve got one of the best lineups in all of baseball.”
Gray went the distance that year, pitching in the American League Division series twice, both times going head to head against the 2011 A.L. MVP and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers.
Even though the A’s lost that series. Gray stepped up in his rookie season and added a bright spot to what was a bitter defeat.
In 2016 he didn’t look like the same Sonny Gray and, in 2016 it was time for some other young players to step up, both on the mound and at the plate, to keep the A’s even relatively afloat.
Rookies Ryan Dull, Ryon Healy, Jharel Cotton, Bruce Maxwell and Sean Manaea each put up performances that didn’t necessarily save the A’s season, being that there wasn’t much to save, but put bright spots and hope for the future into the 2016 regular season.