The A's locked up reliever Sean Doolittle with a contract extension Friday afternoon, just hours before prized prospect Sonny Gray showed once again that he also has the makings of a franchise cornerstone. Gray kept the Houston Astros in check for six innings and cruised to his third victory without a loss this season, in large part because of a seven-run outburst in the first inning that catapulted the A's to an 11-3 win at the Coliseum. A matchup between the top pitching prospects from the respective organizations -- Gray and Houston's Jarred Cosart — lasted less than one inning. Gray did his part. It was Cosart who failed to live up to the hype. He departed after 39 pitches and seven runs on his ledger. As so often is the case, the A's relied upon a formula that they call power and patience. Wait for certain pitches, take some walks along the way and tee off when the desired pitches arrive. "That's how you get starting pitchers out of the game," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "That's how you get to bullpens early. That's how you can beat good starting pitchers. ... That's been an attribute of ours for the better part of two-plus years now." It worked to perfection Friday. Yoenis Cespedes started the A's onslaught with a two-run single after Cosart walked the bases loaded. Alberto Callaspo added a three-run home run and Josh Reddick drilled a two-run shot before Cosart got yanked with one out. The A's batted for so long in the first inning that Gray warmed up in the bullpen, while Cosart labored on the mound. Gray made it through the long wait just fine. Not that he cared, given the fact he benefited from the offensive explosion and it made his job that much easier. Cespedes tacked on a solo homer in the second, which extended the lead to 8-0 and almost matched the nine runs the A's scored in Gray's first three starts combined. Just about everyone got in the act offensively for the A's on Friday. Reddick entered the game in a 1-for-17 slump and without any extra-base hits all season.
Sonny Gray benefits from Oakland A's seven-run first inning against Astros
Oakland Tribune | Apr 19