Sonny Gray has drawn plenty of comparisons to former Oakland Athletics’ star Tim Hudson over the years.
That’s perfectly fine with the A’s rookie pitcher, especially if he goes on to have the kind of success Hudson has enjoyed throughout his 15-year career.
Gray looks to build on an outstanding performance and lead Oakland to its fifth win in six games Tuesday night against the visiting Seattle Mariners.
Brandon Moss helped the A’s (71-53) remain one-half game behind Texas in the AL West with a walk-off home run in Monday’s 2-1 victory. Moss has homered in consecutive games versus the Mariners (57-67) with four in his last eight against them.
“That’s a strong man,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He gets into one and there’s not a park around he can’t hit it out of.”
Following Jarrod Parker’s first career complete game in the series opener, the A’s hope to get another solid effort from a rotation that has a 1.33 ERA over the last six games.
They’ll give the ball to the 23-year-old Gray (1-1, 1.00 ERA), who says people have compared him to Hudson since he was in high school. Hudson, out for the season for Atlanta with a broken ankle, went 92-39 while helping the A’s reach the playoffs four times from 1999-2004.
“If you compare me to Tim Hudson, he’s one of my favorite pitchers, one of the greatest pitchers,” said Gray, a right-hander with a similar slight build.
Since making a pair of relief appearances in July, Gray has given up four runs - two earned - and struck out 14 over 14 innings in two starts. He fanned nine and allowed four hits over eight innings in a 5-0 victory over Houston on Thursday.
Gray, however, could be monitored a little more closely after throwing 118 pitches.
“It was good for (Melvin) to have the confidence in me to leave me out there,” said Gray, who threw 94 pitches in his first big league start Aug. 10.
He appears to have an opportunity to continue his early success against a Seattle team that has averaged 2.7 runs and batted .218 while dropping four of six.
The top three in the batting order - Brad Miller (3 for 20), Nick Franklin (6 for 59) and Kyle Seager (4 for 32) - are among the slumping Mariners. Slugger Michael Morse could be out again after missing the past two games with a sore wrist.
Seattle will attempt to turn things around offensively for Joe Saunders (10-12, 4.86), who is 1-4 with a 7.77 ERA in his last five starts, allowing five home runs and 11 walks in 24 1-3 innings during that span.
He lasted 4 1-3 innings for the second consecutive outing Thursday, yielding five runs and seven hits in a 7-1 loss at Tampa Bay.
Saunders, though, is 15-6 with a 3.36 ERA in 23 career starts versus Oakland. He seeks his third straight win against them this season after allowing two runs over 13 1-3 innings in his last two meetings.
Yoenis Cespedes (2 for 9) and Josh Reddick (1 for 9) have both struggled against the lefty the past two seasons, but Josh Donaldson is 7 for 14 lifetime in this matchup.