Oakland A's pitcher Sonny Gray breaks with tradition in no-hit bid

OAKLAND, Calif. -- In between innings of Sonny Gray flirting with history Monday night, the Oakland Athletics right-hander also trifled with karma.

Usually, when pitchers are throwing no-hitters, they find a quiet corner of the dugout, away from their teammates, as far away as possible from their managers.

Gray? He was bopping around A's manager Bob Melvin, like some kid hopped up on leftover Easter candy who had just been given a puppy.

Gray wanted to know what Melvin thought of his new warm-up song, "Come Together," by the Beatles.

"Get away from me," Melvin told Gray. "No one wants to talk about walk-up songs. No one wants to talk to you right now."

Gray, born some 19 years after the Beatles broke up, indeed reunited the A's home crowd in throwing seven innings of no-hit ball at the Texas Rangers before giving up a leadoff single to Ryan Rua in the eighth. It was enough for the A's to end their MLB-record 10-game losing streak on Opening Day as they pounded the Rangers 8-0 before a sellout crowd of 36,067 at O.co Coliseum.

Gray switched speeds on his two-seam fastball, going between 95 and 88 miles per hour, to keep Rangers hitters off balance all night. Gray struck out three, walked one, hit another batter and threw 98 pitches, 66 of them for strikes, in his eight innings.

"I felt good in the bullpen, and I knew during player introductions that I was ready. We were all ready," said Gray, the first A's pitcher to draw consecutive Opening Day starts since Barry Zito in 2005 and 2006.

"I knew they didn't have any hits. I was just taking it one inning at a time."

And tugging on Melvin's cape with his musical questions.

Hey, the kid had a lot of nervous energy to burn after arriving at the park at 1 p.m. for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch. He said he usually gets to the stadium at about 4 p.m.

Gray was attempting to author the first Opening Day no-hitter since Hall of Famer Bob Feller did it in 1940, against the Chicago White Sox. Gray did, however, become the first pitcher to throw eight innings and allow one hit or fewer on Opening Day since Bob Lemon in 1953, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.

And while Gray is now carrying a 17-inning scoreless streak against the Rangers, the A's became the first team since the 1991 Montreal Expos to allow one hit or fewer on Opening Day after Evan Scribner pitched a perfect ninth inning.

It was also the A's second Opening Day shutout in Oakland history, along with the 5-0 defeat of the Seattle Mariners in 2003.

"Opening night is a national holiday for a lot of people," catcher Stephen Vogt said. "All of his pitches were working. He's fun to catch."

And, apparently, to greet in the dugout after your own accomplishment.

It was after Vogt's towering three-run home run in the seventh when Vogt went through the celebratory players' tunnel in the dugout and spied a familiar face awaiting him.

Gray chest-bumped him. Gray still had a no-hitter going.

"That," Vogt said, "is why I love him."

Alas, history would have to wait.

The right-handed hitting Rua led off that fateful eighth and slapped an 0-and-2 offering into the hole between first and second for the Rangers' first, and last, hit of the night.

"I made the pitch I wanted to make -- elevate the heater," Gray said. "He shortened his swing and put a great swing on it."

Was Gray frustrated?

"No," he said, despite his body language at the time indicating otherwise. "I'd do it again."

Gray was talking about the pitch, though he may as well have been talking about his loosey-goosey vibe in the A's dugout.