Sonny Gray loses no-hitter, but A’s finally snap Opening Day skid

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Sonny Gray gave up an 0-2 single to right to Ryan Rua to snap his no-hitter in the eighth inning of Monday’s game against the Rangers.

Gray, aiming for just the second Opening Day no-no in MLB history, had thrown 83 pitches through seven innings, allowing just two batters to reach. One came on an HBP, while the other reached on a Ben Zobrist error.

After Rua’ s single, Gray got a line-drive double play and a groundout to finish the eighth at 98 pitches. He exited, and the A’s went on to win the game 8-0.

Zobrist, more than making up for his error, had a two-run homer and a double in his A’s debut.

Cleveland’s Bob Feller pitched the lone Opening Day no-hitter in MLB history in 1940 against the White Sox.

For the A’s, it was the first Opening Day victory in 11 years. Even with all of their regular-season success, they had lost 10 straight openers dating back to 2005, and they were shut out in the last two. Their previous Opening Day victory in 2004 was also against the Rangers.

The Royals are paying everyone. Why can’t all of the other teams?

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Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.

The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.

Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.

While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.

Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?