Gray slams the door.

Jon Gray pitched his best game as a Ranger, shutting out Oakland for seven innings in a 5-2 win.

That was the Jon Gray the Rangers envisioned when they signed the thirty-year-old right-hander to a four-year deal in the off-season.

After seven seasons with Colorado, which is about as intense of a pitching environment as possible because of the thin air in Denver, Gray landed with Texas, a pitching environment not known for sustained success because of all the bad pitching. 

Gray isn’t an ace by any means. He is just a solid starter who gives you some good games along with some clunkers. His did have a winning record with Colorado, 53-49, with an nothing-to-write-home-about ERA of 4.50. But a 4.50 ERA in the Rangers rotation looks pretty good.

The only category Gray ever lead the league in was earned runs allowed, 98 in 2018. That’s not something a pitcher wants on his resumé. But Gray did have a couple seasons where his ERA was below four, which in Colorado is really an accomplishment. 

His brief time with the Rangers has been hit and miss, mainly because he got off to a rocky start due to injuries.

It’s worth noting his three best starts this year are against underachieving teams. He pitched seven shutout innings against Detroit in mid-June. The Tigers are battling the Royals for last place in the A.L. Central. He pitched seven innings of one-run baseball against those last-place Royals two starts later. 

Last night, he threw another seven-inning gem, this one against the lowly Oakland Athletics, who, at .210, are on pace for the worst team batting average in MLB history. To put it in context, last year’s Texas Rangers were the worst hitting team in baseball. They batted .232, robust by comparison.

All in all, Gray was masterful last night. He allowed just one hit, struck out nine, and didn’t walk a batter. In Rangers history, only one other pitcher has thrown at least seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts and no walks. That was Yu Darvish in his near-perfect game. He had fourteen Ks.

The Rangers needed that for a number of reasons. They certainly didn’t want to wear the embarrassment of losing a series to Oakland. They needed a long start to save their wobbly bullpen, which, on cue, gave the Athletics two late runs. And they needed a great start by someone other than Martin Perez. 

It would be welcomed if this Jon Gray shows up more regularly.