OAKLAND -- Sonny Gray won't be in the All-Star game next week, but it was an All-Star quality start the A's got from the 24-year-old Tuesday in a 6-1 win over the Giants.
Gray held San Francisco without a run for the first six innings of his first career start against Oakland's cross-bay rivals. He wound up pitching seven innings and giving up one run on Tyler Colvin's homer in the seventh.
In leading the A's to their sixth consecutive victory in the final home game of the pre-All-Star break portion of the schedule, Gray ran his record to 9-3 and lowered his ERA to 2.97. For the A's as a whole, they are 57-33 after 90 games, the best record in the Major Leagues and the second-best 90-game record for any Oakland team after 1971's 58-32.
And the A's have a club-record 57 wins before the All-Star break. They have five games left before the All-Star game rolls around.
That's earned the A's six American League All-Stars, seven when you count newly acquired Jeff Samardzija, who made it on the National League squad. If you listen to the A's, Gray could be there, too.
"Sonny is just scary good,'' All-Star reliever Sean Doolittle said. "He absolutely could be there, no question about it. Just look at his numbers, a sub-3.00 ERA. This is someone who pitches with poise and maturity. The sky's the limit for him.''
The showing by Gray was the continuation of a collective flex of pitching muscle on the part of the A's. Since giving up six runs in the sixth inning July 2, Oakland hurlers have been close to invincible, giving up five runs in 59 innings. In particular, A's starters have dominated. In the past six games, they have thrown at least six innings while allowing one or zero runs in each of those games. That's the best for the A's franchise in at least a century, dating to 1914.
"We feed off each other,'' Gray said. "This is what we are capable of. Really, on the inside, this is what we expect of each other.''
Those are some great expectations.
Gray has started two of those games during the current streak, giving up two runs in 14 innings. He might have had a shot at an All-Star berth in any other year for the A's, but with Oakland getting six men on the A.L. team, not to mention newly acquired Samardzija on the N.L. side, Gray's chances may have been inhibited by Oakland's top-to-bottom success.
The right-hander gave up a one-out double in the first but struck out the side. In the second, back-to-back singles had him in a potentially dangerous spot, but a fly ball from Colvin and two more strikeouts turned the Giants away.
In the third inning, the A's batted around and scored four runs off Giants All-Star lefty Madison Bumgarner. From there it was cruise control until the A's finally closed it out with the team outscoring opponents 25-5 over the past six games.
"When your pitchers allow five runs in six games, you are going to win a lot of games,'' manager Bob Melvin said, almost in disbelief. "They compete with each other, it's a fraternal thing.''
The A's are making it tough on the rest of the A.L. West. The Angels have the second-best record in the A.L. and have won five of their last six games. In that time they've lost a full game in the standings and now sit 4½ games back.
A's (Jason Hammel 8-5) at Giants (Matt Cain 1-7), 7:15 p.m. CSNCA,