Twins’ Sonny Gray puts league-best ERA on line against Dodgers

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

After he tore through the American League over his first seven starts, Minnesota right-hander Sonny Gray, MLB’s ERA leader, will face a National League team for his second consecutive outing as the Twins square off against the host Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon.

Gray had a 1.35 ERA through seven starts then gave up one run over 5 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts Friday against the Chicago Cubs. Despite holding his opponent in check, Gray finished with a no-decision and his ERA even went up a tick, to 1.39. He has a 4-0 record.

After the Twins lost that game 6-2, the concern was all about a sluggish offense. But the bats immediately came alive with 17 runs in the next two games against the Cubs and 13 in the first two games of the current series against the Dodgers. The output was just as Gray predicted.

“I personally don’t feel like there (isn’t any) wiggle room,” Gray said after the outing. “I feel like, even if we do give up a lead, I still feel like we’re going to win the game. I have all the confidence in the world in those guys, and things will start turning around for us, there’s no doubt about that.”

Now comes a matchup with the Dodgers, who Gray faced in August of last season but received a no-decision at Dodger Stadium when he gave up four runs (three earned) over 4 2/3 innings in an 8-5 Twins loss.

Gray gave up four runs in an outing just once more over his next seven starts last season and has not given up that many in any outing this season. His season-high three runs allowed came May 6 against the Cleveland Guardians in another no-decision.

Against the Dodgers in his career, Gray is 1-3 with a 3.16 ERA in five starts and has 39 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings.

Twins right-hander Bailey Ober gave Gray a blueprint on how to hold down the Dodgers, allowing one run over six innings in Minnesota’s 5-1 victory on Tuesday. The Twins are coming off series victories against the San Diego Padres and Cubs.

The Dodgers will send right-hander Dustin May to the mound in the finale of a six-game homestand. May (4-1, 2.68) is coming off his second-longest outing of the season when he went 6 2/3 innings against the San Diego Padres on Friday.

“I was making quality pitches when I needed to, keeping the ball down, mixing well, throwing everything for strikes early on,” May said.

May’s first full season back from Tommy John surgery has gone as well as the Dodgers could have hoped. After giving up a season-worst five runs April 17 against the New York Mets, May has thrown at least 90 pitches in each of his last four outings, including a career-high 104 on April 28 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

May, who will be facing the Twins for the first time in his career, now has his opponent’s running game to consider. Byron Buxton had two steals for the Twins on Wednesday, his first game with multiple steals since April 2018. Minnesota had four steals in all after entering with an MLB-worst 11.

Buxton had two hits for the third consecutive game following an 0-for-26 slide.

–Field Level Media

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