Sonny Gray’s Inner Struggle

I discovered that my usual game shows weren’t on television on this morning.  I went out to do my laundry, and then I walked to the library to hang out there for a couple of hours.  I browsed through the record stores and bought the Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition of “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”  I bought a chicken burrito for lunch and took a nap.  Just after four o’clock, I took the buses out to the Coliseum.  On Thursday night, the first inning was the highlight of the game for the A’s.  This time, the good feeling lasted a little bit longer, but we were left with concerns about Sonny Gray.  Perhaps a bad omen was that the woman who sang the national anthem stumbled during her performance, out of nervousness forgetting the words for a while.  Gray was facing the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he started off well enough, getting the first seven batters out.  Meanwhile, on offense, the A’s got some runs.  Jed Lowrie got things started in the bottom of the first inning with a walk on a 3-2 pitch, and then Marcus Semien hit a home run on a 3-2 pitch.  Valencia walked with one out, but then Khris Davis and Billy Butler both grounded out.  Davis and Butler, along with Josh Phegley, would go on to do nothing with their bats all night, and none of them would even reach base during the game.  In the bottom of the second inning with two outs, Yonder Alonso singled, and then Jed Lowrie doubled to make the score 3-0.  That would be the high point of the night for the A’s.  Gray could not provide the shutdown inning in the third, as with one out, he gave up a home run.  Gray got the next three batters out, but then allowed a double with one out in the fourth inning.  A ground ball moved the runner to third, and Gray threw a wild pitch, making the score 3-2.  It was troubling to see two of the prevalent problems for Gray, the home run ball and the wild pitch, occur in this game.  In the top of the fifth inning, Gray allowed more runs on three consecutive singles and a ground out, which made the score 4-3.  The innings were getting worse for Gray  In the sixth inning after two outs, he hit a batter with a pitch, threw another wild pitch, and allowed a walk, a single, and a double, and when it was all over, the Pirates had increased their lead to 7-3.  Gray ended the sixth inning with a strikeout.  Liam Hendriks pitched the seventh and eighth innings, getting six of seventh batters out, allowing only a two-out single in the eighth inning.  Andrew Triggs pitched the top of the ninth inning, allowing just a two-out walk.  The relief pitchers did keep the Pirates from scoring.  What was happening with the A’s offense during all of this?  Unfortunately, their bats were quiet, and thus they were not scoring runs.  In the bottom of the third inning, the A’s had a chance to score when Josh Reddick walked and Danny Valencia reached base on an error by the pitcher.  However, Davis and Butler both struck out, and Jake Smolinski lined out to shortstop.  In fact, after the error on Valencia’s play, the A’s batters made 11 consecutive outs before Smolinski single with two outs in the sixth inning.  After Smolinski’s hit, the A’s batters made 10 consecutive outs to end the game.  Phegley made the last out on a ground ball.  It was a discouraging 7-3 loss because we had hope with Sonny Gray on the mound.  The game began at 7:07 with a game time temperature of 61 degrees, and it ended at 9:52.  Mark Mulder on the radio said that Sonny Gray seemed to be going through an inner struggle, and he didn’t pitch as confidently after he gave up the home run.  Chris Townsend asked the question “Where is my Sonny Gray?”  As Gray took the mound, we didn’t hear The Beatles’ “Come Together,” but a Willie Nelson tune, so it did seem right from the start that he was a different person.  As I took BART home, there was some kind of incident on the train, with a woman claiming that a man punched her in the face.  After I got home, I watched a bit of Marlon Brando on The Dick Cavett Show.  Some of the people who died on July 2 include Amelia Earhart (1937), Ernest Hemingway (1961), Betty Grable (1973), Vladimir Nabokov (1977), Lee Remick (1991), Fred Gwynne (1993), Mario Puzo (1999), and Jan Murray (2006).  Today is a birthday for Jose Canseco, Jerry Hall (60), and Larry David (69).

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