Oakland A's MLN: Gray Takes Another Step

On the same day that Oakland A's left-hander Tommy Milone struck-out 10 in seven-plus innings, the A's minor league starting pitching put on a clinic. All four of the A's minor league affiliates received outstanding starting pitching performances on Wednesday. Get all of the details in this edition of Oakland A's Minor League Notebook.

Gray Does It All In Sacramento Win

Oakland A's 2011 first-round pick Sonny Gray had a difficult first half of the season with the Double-A Midland Rockhounds last year. Gray has had no such trouble in the early going with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats this year. The right-hander lowered his season ERA to 2.61 with a brilliant complete-game effort against the Fresno Grizzlies on Wednesday night. The complete game was the first of the nine-inning variety of Gray's professional career (Gray had a seven-inning complete game for Midland last season).

Gray was very efficient in his outing against Fresno. He needed just 94 pitches to get through the nine frames. Gray struck-out six in the game and walked only two. In each of his last four starts, Gray has struck-out at least five. He has 25 strike-outs and 12 walks in 31 innings this season.

The Vanderbilt alum was a groundball machine. He induced 10 groundouts and recorded just two outs via the air. Gray scattered four hits in the game.

Despite the brilliant effort, Gray wasn't in-line for a win until the seventh inning. The River Cats broke through for three runs in the top of the seventh, all of them coming via the longball. Shane Peterson connected on his first homerun of the season, a two-run shot that gave the River Cats the lead. Michael Choice followed with a long homerun that left the stadium completely to account for Sacramento's final run.

The homerun was Choice's fifth of the season. Normally a slow starter, Choice has bucked that trend this season. His 873 OPS for the month of April was the highest for that month in his career. He finished the game on Wednesday with his OPS at 903 for the season. Choice has 24 RBI in 25 games played.

The complete game was the first by a River Cats' pitcher since last June, when A.J. Griffin tossed two in consecutive starts (the first was a seven-inning complete game). Griffin was promoted to Oakland not long after that feat.

RockHounds Fall In Extras

The Midland RockHounds received another strong performance from starting pitcher Zach Neal, but it wasn't enough as they fell in 11 innings, 3-2, to Corpus Christi.

Neal cruised through seven innings of work, allowing just a run on six hits and two walks. The right-hander struck-out seven and lowered his season ERA to 2.06. The former Marlins prospect has a 28:7 K:BB in 35 innings this season.

The game went into extra innings tied at 1-1. Midland scored in the top of the 10th, but the RockHounds weren't able to hold the lead and Midland eventually fell in the bottom of the 11th. Kyler Newby was hung with the loss after allowing two runs (one earned) in one-plus innings of work.

Midland didn't manage much offense in the game, but Anthony Aliotti had a big night at the plate. The first baseman went 3-for-3 with two walks. He is now batting .350 on the season. Jefry Marte had two hits. All of Midland's eight hits were singles.

Granier Paces Ports In Pitchers' Duel

The Stockton Ports jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, and that was all right-handers Drew Granier and Seth Frankoff would need in their 2-1 win over the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes on Wednesday night.

Granier went seven innings to earn his third win of the season. He allowed a run on five hits and two walks and he struck-out five. Frankoff picked up his first save of the season with a perfect two innings of work.

Granier, a Midwest League mid-season All-Star last season, is making a bid for consideration as a Cal League All-Star this year. He lowered his season ERA to 2.81 with the seven-inning effort and now has 40 strike-outs in 32 innings pitched this season. Granier struck-out 167 in 162.2 innings last year.

Second baseman Antonio Lamas had the big hit in the game for Stockton. His first-inning triple drove-home Addison Russell (who had reached on an error) and Lamas would score the second run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Josh Whitaker. Stockton would have only three hits in the game (Myrio Richard and Bobby Crocker had the other two).

Beloit Loses Lead Late, Falls In Extras

The Beloit Snappers held a one-run lead late in their game against the Great Lake Loons, but they were unable to hold the lead and fell, 3-2, in 10 innings on Wednesday night.

Starter Seth Streich allowed only one run on one hit and one walk in six innings, but he was hung with a tough no-decision. Streich struck-out seven in his best start of the season.

Reliever Tyler Vail took over for Streich in the seventh inning. He pitched a scoreless seventh, but then allowed a run in the eighth to tie the game. Chris Lamb kept the Loons off the board in the ninth, but Drew Tyson allowed a run with one-out in the 10th to earn the loss.

Catcher Bruce Maxwell had a perfect game at the plate. He doubled twice and went 4-for-4 with a walk. The A's 2012 second-round pick is now batting .284 on the season. Brett Vertigan, Daniel Robertson, Chris Bostick and Ryan Mathews accounted for the only other hits the Snappers would pick up in the game. Bostick, Vertigan and Matt Olson each stole a base in the game.

A's 2010 fourth-round pick Chad Lewis made his season debut with Beloit on Wednesday. He went 0-for-4 as the DH. Outfielder Rashun Dixon was added to the Beloit roster on Wednesday. Dixon, who joined the team from extended spring training, replaced Aaron Shipman, who was placed on the DL.

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