Jon Gray’s first start for the Texas Rangers since May 9 resulted in his longest outing of the season and helped the Rangers lead 6-4 through six innings on Monday against the Los Angeles Angels.
The Rangers won the game, 7-4, and Gray ended his first win of the season.
The right-hander dropped 5 2/3rd innings, surpassing his previous best of five innings at the start in April against Seattle.
It turned out to be the kind of quality outing the Rangers had hoped for when they signed him this offseason. But injuries limited him to four starts to enter the game on Monday, and as a concession to his left knee strain, he was thrown with a large knee brace for the second time in three starts.
Gray threw for 89 pitches, 62 of them for strikes. He gave up four runs (all earned) and eight hits while striking eight and walking one.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward removed him from the game with two outs in the sixth inning after Gray gave a two-out single to Tyler Wade, putting the Angels two at base. Brock Burke retired Andrew Velazquez to protect Gray and the Rangers ’leadership.
Gray had to avoid a slow start in the first inning. He left three consecutive hits to start the game-back-to-back singles by Taylor Ward and Mike Trout-followed by a double by Shohei Ohtani. His double scored on Ward and moved Trout into the third to give the Angels a 1-0 lead.
Gray almost escaped 1-0, but after retiring the next two hitters, Brandon Marsh doubled at home to Trout and Ohtani to make it 3-0 Angels.
However, after a long hiatus due to a six -run Rangers first inning, Gray settled down. At the end of the top third, Gray beat four of the last seven Angels he faced. Nor did he stop with a hit.
“I don’t think he had his command (at first),” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “He felt good physically. He reached 90 pitches. Our first inning ground ball in the hole, it was a good pitch and Trout and Ohtani hit it really hard. I don’t think it’s too bad to give three in first and he lived after that. “
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Gray slightly trailed in the fourth, handing an 0-2 single to Velazquez, who drove Walsh to cut the Rangers lead to 6-4. At that point, Gray closed with 60 pitches. But he retired the next hitter, Ward, to finish fourth.
He didn’t stop his walk until the sixth inning when he issued a pass to Walsh to lead the inning.
Gray signed a four-year, $ 56 million contract with Rangers in the offseason, making him the team’s valued free-agent pitching signing. Surprisingly, Monday was his first start at Globe Life Park this season.
Gray passed a bullpen session on Saturday with no problems and wore the knee brace he will wear in the near future. He didn’t wear the brace on his last start against the New York Yankees and he added to the injury.
Gray entered Monday’s start with a 0-1 record of 5.51 earned average runs in 16 1/3rd innings.
Gray’s return comes after he suffered a blister and a low grade left knee, which limited him to two starts in April – against Toronto on April 9 and against Seattle on April 19. combined innings.
Gray had two starts in May – in Philadelphia on May 3 and with the New York Yankees on May 9. He finished without a decision in two games and didn’t come out in the fifth inning of any clash. .
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