Sonny Gray enjoys a big lead. The Oakland pitcher won his fifth straight decision on Sunday as the Athletics rolled to a 10-2 victory over Baltimore


Oakland led 7-1 after five innings and added three more runs before Gray left with two outs in the seventh.

“As the game went on and we were able to put some runs together, it was really big because then I could just take a deep breath and really start attacking the guys, and throwing my stuff up there and have them put it in play,” Gray said.

Gray allowed two runs, one earned, with two hits and two walks to go with eight strikeouts.

The 24-year-old right-hander has won all four of his starts this month with a 0.39 ERA. This season, Gray is 11-3 with a 2.72 ERA. He has 116 strikeouts in 132.1 innings pitched.

Gray’s curveball is his go-to pitch, and one that opponents would rather not see. He’s only allowed eight baserunners when throwing a curve. On Sunday, the Orioles went 0-for-10 when Gray threw a curveball on the last pitch of an at-bat.

And when the A’s have needed a win, Gray has delivered. He beat Toronto 4-1 on July 3 to halt the team’s three-game losing streak, and stopped Oakland’s two-game skid with a win at Seattle on July 13.

Jeter, Trout, shine in All-Star Game: Derek Jeter is on his way out after a Hall of Fame career. Mike Trout has a long career ahead of him that could turn out to be one of the best ever.

The two players had their moment in the spotlight in last week’s 5-3 American League win at the All-Star Game in Minneapolis. Jeter doubled in the first inning and singled in the third before being replaced in the top of the fourth at shortstop.

Jeter was cheered before his first at-bat, and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright placed his glove on the mound in honor of the New York Yankees star, clapping along with the fans.

“I tried to tell him to pick it up, let’s go,” Jeter said. “But he took a moment and let the fans give me an ovation which I will always remember.”

Jeter, 40, finished with a career .481 (13-for-27) All-Star batting average.

Trout, 23, became the youngest player to be awarded the All-Star Game MVP. He tripled in the first inning to score Jeter, and put the AL in front to stay with an RBI double in the fifth.

“Growing up I was setting goals…that’s how I want to play,” Trout said of Jeter. “And the way he carries himself on and off the field, how he respects the game — always hustling. That’s how I want to play.”

The win gives the AL champion home-field advantage for the World Series.

StatsWatch: Here are the best, and worst, fielding teams in Major League Baseball (through Sunday’s games) –

Best fielding teams:

  • Cincinnati Reds, .988 Fielding Percentage, 42 errors
  • Baltimore Orioles, .988 FPCT, 44 errors
  • Minnesota Twins, .987 FPCT, 46 errors
  • Tampa Bay Rays, .987 FPCT, 47 errors
  • Seattle Mariners, .987 FPCT, 47 errors
  • St. Louis Cardinals, .987 FPCT, 47 errors

Worst fielding teams:

  • Cleveland Indians, .979 FPCT, 77 errors
  • Arizona Diamondbacks, .981 FPCT, 72 errors
  • Pittsburgh Pirates, .982 FPCT, 70 errors
  • Texas Rangers, .980 FPCT, 70 errors
  • Chicago White Sox, .982 FPCT, 67 errors

Note: The MLB averages are a .984 FPCT and 57 errors.

Quotable: “You’re up two runs with two outs and you lay down a bunt. I don’t think that’s the way the game should be played. He layed down a bunt simply for average. I didn’t appreciate it.” – Texas pitcher Colby Lewis on a fifth-inning bunt by Toronto outfielder Colby Rasmus in Sunday’s game, won 4-1 by Toronto.

Diamond Notes: San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt is back on the disabled list because of a concussion. He was hit by a ball in the face while fielding during batting practice on Saturday. Belt missed 50 games due to a broken left thumb earlier in the season, returning on July 5…The Chicago Cubs have filed a lawsuit against several people whom the team accuses of being behind a fake mascot. The team says that the defendants are trying to pass their character, named “Billy Cub,” off as an official representative of the club, and it accuses them of trademark infringement. The “Billy Cub,” fake mascot has been accused by the team of demanding tips for photos, making “rude, profane and derogatory remarks,” and punching a man at a bar near Wrigley Field. The Cubs official mascot is named “Clark the Cub.”

Copyright © 2014  Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.

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