For the second straight night the series between the Oakland Athletics and the Tampa Bay Rays featured a good pitching matchup between talented hurlers. Tonight it was the young phenom Sonny Gray taking on Alex Cobb. As one would imagine, the game turned out to be an affair where runs were at a premium. Neither squad was able to scratch out a run until Coco Crisp guided a grounder up the middle to drive in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the A’s a 1-0 lead.
Cobb got himself into a bit of trouble in early going, when Crisp lined his first pitch into right field for a single and Josh Donaldson walked. The A’s would be unable to capitalize though and Cobb would really settle down after that, ultimately registering a complete game in the hard luck loss. What ended up being the decisive blow came on Coco Crisp’s 15th home run of the season in the bottom of the eighth inning, a solo shot to right field.
Sonny Gray may not have been as efficient as Cobb was, but he was every bit as impressive. Through 6.2 innings of work, Gray shut out the Rays offense while allowing just five hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. He earned his second big league victory.
The combination of Sean Doolittle and Dan Otero would bridge the gap between Gray and closer Grant Balfour with 1.1 innings of scoreless ball. Balfour wasn’t quite so effective, allowing a run in the top of the 9th inning after a Wil Myers double and a walk set the Rays up to attempt a comeback. Balfour would be able to minimize the damage to just a Desmond Jennings RBI single before closing the door on the Rays.
With the win the A’s win the series, and open up a 1.5 game lead over the Rays for the number one wild card spot and are 5 games ahead of the New York Yankees who now are in third place in the wild card race. They remain two games behind the Texas Rangers, who beat the Twins tonight. A.J. Griffin will take the mound tomorrow afternoon as the A’s try to sweep the series before the Rangers come to town on Monday.