OAKLAND -- Manager Bob Melvin indicated Sunday morning that it’s likely ace Sonny Gray has pitched his last game for the A’s this season.
Gray experienced left hip discomfort in his last start Friday night against the Giants. He said it was something that had first arisen in his previous outing in Houston, and that he aggravated it Friday while throwing a pitch in the fifth inning.
Melvin said the A’s will make a final determination Monday on whether Gray will make his next scheduled start against the Los Angeles Angels.
"I think it’s a long shot," Melvin said. "But we’re going to give it one more day."
The A’s would likely see little benefit in risking further injury to Gray. The right-hander has struggled in September, posting a 6.84 ERA in five starts. He did help the A’s snap a five-game losing streak Friday night by holding the Giants to two runs over six innings in the A’s 5-4 win.
Gray’s September likely dropped him out of the A.L. Cy Young race, but overall his was a bright spot in a difficult season for Oakland. Gray made 31 starts, going 14-7 to tie his career high in wins, and has a 2.73 ERA after spending most of the season jockeying for the league ERA lead. He was named an All-Star for the first time.
"He’s had a great year," Melvin said. "He’s had a little bit of a tough stretch here, which stands out because he’s usually so good and so consistent. But really after a couple tough outings, to be able to perform the way he did (Friday) night when we really needed him, especially after giving up a home run in the first inning, shows you what he’s made of.
"We always expect big things out of him. Overall, you look at the numbers, he’s had another great season for us."
One more number Melvin pointed out: Gray is at 208 innings for the season, topping the 200-mark for the second time in his two full major-league seasons. Melvin said that Gray "takes pride" in reaching that number, and in a season in which the A’s had so many injuries to their starting rotation, they could count on Gray taking the ball every fifth day.
The A’s do get one pitcher back Sunday -- reliever Edward Mujica is available for the first time since injuring his groin, Melvin said. Mujica last pitched August 31.
Even with expanded rosters, the reinforcement can’t hurt after the A’s had to rely on the bullpen to cover the final seven innings of Saturday’s 14-10 loss. The Giants completed a wild comeback when Jarrett Parker hit a grand slam -- his third homer off the day -- off of Ryan Dull in the eighth inning. It was the second straight day Parker had homered off Dull.
After not allowing a run in his first 11 major-league innings, Dull has now allowed runs and home runs in consecutive outings. Melvin argued that Dull encountered some bad luck that allowed the eighth inning Saturday to build for Parker, and said his faith in Dull hasn’t been shaken.
"He came up against a hot hitter (Parker) who was in an aggressive hitter with the bases loaded, and had to throw strikes, and (Parker) ended up getting him," Melvin said. "I’ve seen enough from Ryan Dull at this point to know what he’s all about. He’ll continue to pitch obviously the rest of the season, but we feel like he’s going to be a significant factor for us next year."
The A’s play their final home game of the season Sunday. If they lose, they’ll finish with the second-worst home record in Oakland history, as they’re currently 34-46 (.425). Playing well in front of the home crowd is something that Melvin, a Bay Area native, takes pride in, so he would certainly like to see his team end its 2015 home slate with a win. The A’s lineup that will start Sunday behind left-hander Chris Nolin:
And the Giants’ lineup behind right-hander Chris Heston: