Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray

A’s ace Sonny Gray scratched from start with back spasms

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A’s ace Sonny Gray was scheduled to start this afternoon against the Blue Jays, but he was scratched from the start with back spasms and Jesse Chaving is filling in.

Here’s what manager Bob Melvin told Jane Lee of MLB.com about Gray’s status:

He had some back spasms last night and was working hard to get them out of there. We wanted to at least wait until this morning to see how he felt, but we had a pretty good idea last night he wasn’t going to start. We’ll see how he feels in Baltimore, and we’ll get him in there when we feel it’s the proper time to get him in there, but at this point, not sure.

Gray is having a fantastic, Cy Young-caliber season, going 12-4 with a league-best 2.06 ERA and 136/40 K/BB ratio in 162 innings.

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

Yankees
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Yankees 21, Rangers 5: Well this was a ridiculous game. Down 5-0 after one inning, every Yankees fan I know on Twitter was giving up, changing the channel and/or cursing Chris Capuano, who didn’t even make it through that first inning. Then the Yankees put up an 11-spot in the second, capped by a Chris Young grand slam, and never looked back. It was 98 degrees at game time and this one lasted three hours, thirty-eight minutes. Rangers pitchers needed 97 more pitches to get through nine innings than the Yankees pitchers did. The box score looks like a crime scene. I’m gonna nominate this one for the least-fun game of the year in Major League Baseball.

Athletics 2, Dodgers 0: Sonny Gray tossed a three-hit, complete game shutout, striking out nine and lowering his ERA to 2.16. I watched this one. Because of the pace it was the rare west coast start I could see (almost) all of before falling asleep. That’s quite a brag for a 42-year-old guy who wakes up at 5:30 every day.

Orioles 7, Braves 3: Two homers and five driven in for Chris Davis and another crap road performance for Julio Teheran. Dude has a 2.37 ERA at Turner Field and a 7.24 ERA on the road. He must REALLY not like hotels.

Phillies 3, Blue Jays 2: Adam Morgan gave up a leadoff homer and found himself down 2-0 after two, but Philly came back with three in the fifth inning and then Ken Giles closed it out for his first save in the post-Papelbon era. The Phillies are on fire, having won 9 of 10 since the break. If they win out that’s 99 wins and I bet that would take the NL East this year. Just sayin’.

Royals 2, Indians 1: Not gonna say things are going great for the Royals right now, but things are going great for the Royals right now:

 

White Sox 9, Red Sox 4: Jose Abreu and Geovany Soto homered for Chicago. Soto’s broke the windshield of a car parked in a lot behind the Green Monster. Abreu’s caused this:

 

If you catch a ball going over the fence, you automatically become a wide receiver and have to maintain possession. Sorry, Mookie, them’s the breaks. In other news, Jeff Samardzija was solid until he ran out of gas in the ninth. Not that it matters much, but Chicago moved into sole possession of third place, a game ahead of the skidding Tigers.

Rays 10, Tigers 2: Did you hear the Tigers are skidding? Because they are. This time even their ace David Price couldn’t help them, with the Rays touching him for five runs in six innings. They touched the pen pretty good too, for five more runs in three, with Neftali Feliz doing most of the kerosene-spreading. He’s the Tigers’ big trade deadline pickup so far, you guys.

 

Mets 4, Padres 0: Noah Syndergaard was fantastic, retiring the first 18 Padres to start the game. He finished the game having only allowed three hits and no walks while striking out nine over eight innings. The Mets are only one back of Washington, who . . .

Marlins 4, Nationals 1: . . . lost to the Fish. Jose Fernandez worked around four walks in six innings, ending up allowing only one run. He’s now 15-0 for his career in Miami.

Rockies 7, Cubs 2: All-Star D.J. LeMahieu had three hits, extending his hitting streak to 18 games, and scored twice as the Rockies move to 1-0 in the Post-Tulowitzki era. The starting pitchers in this one were named Dallas Beeler and Yohan Flande. Those sound like hockey players, right? I’m pretty sure they’re hockey players.

Pirates 8, Twins 7: Jung Ho-Kang hit a tie-breaking homer in the ninth to give the Pirates their fourth win in five games. He had two hits, scored two runs and was hit by a pitch. His pickup is looking like one of the better ones of last offseason, especially given the Pirates infield injuries. Mark Melancon got the five-out win. Not a lot of closers, save situation or otherwise, are allowed to get five outs these days.

Astros 10, Angels 5: The AP gamer leads with “Jose Altuve is the spark plug that powers the Houston Astros.” Sadly, nfor now anyway, he is only the second-best spark plug in Astros history. No word on whether he’s “gritty.” He’s good, though, and here he drove in five runs as Houston takes the first in a key three-game series against the Angels, putting them in a virtual tie for first place. Houston overcame an early 4-1 deficit in this one. Mike Trout sat this one out with a bum wrist. Bad time for the best player in baseball to be on the shelf. He’s day to day.

Reds 4, Cardinals 0: Mike Leake’s final audition for other teams went well, as he tossed eight shutout innings. Joey Votto was the primary supporting player here, hitting a three-run homer on this 3-for-3 night. He walked too.

Diamondbacks 8, Mariners 4: David Peralta had three hits and drove in two in support of Zack Godley. There are an awful lot of Zacks/Zachs in Major League Baseball today. Really, I think we’ve reached Peak Zack.

Brewers 5, Giants 2: Wily Peralta pitched in a big league game for the first time in two months and he pitched well, allowing two runs over six innings and cooling off the hot Giants. Gerardo Parra tripled, doubled, singled and scored three runs.

HBT First-Half Awards: American League Cy Young

Chris Sale
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With no baseball on Wednesday or Thursday, we’re taking stock of the best performances of the first half of the season by handing out midseason awards. Maybe someday we’ll have the budget for an actual Midseason Award Trophy, but for now they merely get our kind and admiring words. Next up: American League Cy Young Award.

Craig Calcaterra‘s ballot:

1. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
2. Sonny Gray, Oakland A’s
3. Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros

This is a dang close race, folks, with arguments for all three of these guys, in terms of stats, in terms of narratives or in terms of whatever combination of those two things you prefer to let lead you in your analysis of such things.

Chris Sale, of course, has been striking out the world, leading the league in strikeouts, strikeouts per nine innings and leading the AL in WHIP and in Fielding Independent Pitching. Sonny Gray leads the American League in adjusted ERA+, ERA, and has given up fewer hits and fewer home runs per nine innings than any starter. Dallas Keuchel, for his part, is tied for the lead league in wins and WAR among pitchers. As far as narrative stuff goes, Keuchel is leading a surprisingly good Astros team, Sale tied the record for most consecutive games with ten strikeouts or more and Gray, well, he’s at least a reason to watch the A’s every fifth day.

If you ask me who should win this award ten times in the next few days I’d probably go back and forth between Sale and Gray a handful of times and may, when I’m feeling narrative-y, throw it Keuchel’s way on occasion. And I’d probably clear my throat and mention Felix Hernandez and Chris Archer a couple of times too because they’re having fantastic seasons. But if you put a gun to my head and make me choose one, I’ll choose Sale, because strikeouts are fun, even if they’re somewhat fascist.

Aaron Gleeman‘s ballot:

1. Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros
2. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
3. Sonny Gray, Oakland A’s

I agree with basically everything Calcaterra said above, especially the stuff about this being an extremely close race so far. Chris Sale has been the most dominant starter, but in looking over all the relevant numbers I kept coming back to Dallas Keuchel as being every bit as deserving. He leads the league in innings pitched and batters faced–which is huge for an Astros rotation that otherwise hasn’t been particularly good–and Keuchel ranks second in ERA at 2.23, just 0.18 behind Sonny Gray and 0.49 better than Sale.

I give Keuchel the slight edge based mostly on a higher workload–he’s thrown 14 more innings than Gray and 18 more innings than Sale–while also having zero problem with anyone thinking Sale or Gray should be in the top spot. It’s also worth giving a little nod to reigning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, whose secondary numbers remain Cy Young-caliber even if poor lineup, bullpen, and defensive support from the Indians have burdened him with an ugly win-loss record and too many runs allowed.