To throw a complete-game shutout, pitchers usually have to leave everything on the mound. But after Sonny Gray threw 87 pitches to notch the first one of his career on Wednesday, he was ready for more.
"I think I had a 110-pitch limit tonight. I think they absolutely would've sent me back out for another inning," Gray said. "I absolutely could've done it."
The A's No. 3 prospect allowed eight hits but induced four double plays as the Double-A Midland RockHounds blanked the Corpus Christi Hooks, 5-0, in the first game of a doubleheader.
Gray (4-7) struck out two and walked one in the seven-inning game. He has not given up a run over his last 13 1/3 innings.
"Today was probably the most consistent I've been with throwing strikes -- fastball, curveball and a few changeups," Gray said. "I would say I got my curveball back on track. I think I threw 15 of 20 for strikes."
Gray did not work a single perfect inning but helped himself by keeping the ball in the infield. Overall, he generated eight ground balls compared to two flyouts.
"They were being fairly aggressive and I was able to get the fastball in there. ... I was able to execute it down in the zone and with a lot of action today," he said.
"That's kind of what's been my M.O. this year -- try to get ahead. And a lot of these teams are aggressive. Get ahead and let them get themselves out."
Gray, selected 18th overall in the 2011 Draft, went 1-3 with a 5.84 ERA in five starts in June -- the worst month of his brief professional career. He has improved considerably in July, compiling a 3.22 ERA in four outings. Overall, he's got a 4.38 ERA and 62 strikeouts over 96 2/3 innings.
"I just tried to get back to doing what I do best: Getting ahead with the fastball and trying to put them away with the breaking ball," said Gray, MLB.com's No. 71 overall prospect. "I think my last two outings, I really went back to being myself and not worrying about different things. ... The biggest thing is not thinking out there and just executing."
To continue his success, the 21-year-old right-hander said he has to stay aggressive.
"Just attacking guys, keeping the confidence that I have right now and going after guys," he added. "Keep competing out there and, like I said, not trying to think how to execute but just doing what it takes to get it done. Execute the pitch and don't worry about how it looks."
Anthony Aliotti led the RockHounds' offense with a pair of doubles and two RBIs. Matt Rizzotti also collected two hits and drove in two runs.