Elliott: Seven shades of Gray and Jays arms leading to deadline

By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network

We used to hear a continuous clubhouse debate about unearned runs.

While a clanked ground ball by the shortstop with two out and a man on third was certainly not a pitcher’s fault, it would follow that the run was unearned. The pitcher did not make a mistake, why should he have the runs go on his record?

However, a left-hander bouncing off the mound and firing a bunt into the right field corner was a different matter.

“You threw it away, the runs should be earned, it’s your fault ... not any one else’s,” a position player would tease a pitcher.

The debate could have continued Tuesday night at the Rogers Centre in what may have been the final start for Oakland A’s talented right-hander Sonny Gray.

Gray fielded a Kendry Morales roller up the first base in the second inning, attempting to throw out Justin Smoak at second base. Only problem was, Gray threw on the run and off the wrong foot, his ball sailing over second and into left field. 

Five hitters later, the Blue Jays had scored four runs -- all unearned -- in a 4-1 win against the A’s.

It’s doubtful Gray affected his trade value heading into the non-waiver trade deadline on Monday.

In all, scouts from seven teams were on hand to see Gray and the players that the Blue Jays have on the table: Joe Smith, who pitched a scoreless inning Tuesday, Marco Estrada, who starts Wednesday and Francisco Liariano who started Monday.

In to see Gray and look at the Jays arms were scouts from the following clubs. 

_ The New York Yankees, who would like to add Gray.

_ Chicago Cubs, who might in on Gray or more relief help which could come from either club.

_ The Los Angeles Dodgers, who had by scout Will Rhymes in the house.

_ The Pittsburgh Pirates with Joe Bowen, a regal name in scouting world, evaluating both Gray and Jays arms

_ The Milwaukee Brewers had Gord Ash looking at Gray and need bullpen help.

_ The Cleveland Indians are looking for pitching help, had Chris Gale, son of former major league starter Rich Gale, on hand.

LHP Francisco Liriano, shown here with trainer George Poulis, started Monday.

LHP Francisco Liriano, shown here with trainer George Poulis, started Monday.

_ The Kansas City Royals super scout Tim Conroy  has been watching the Jays since Friday in Cleveland and will see Estrada's second start Wednesday night. KC added starter Trevor Cahill,, but has room for one more whether that is Liriano, or Estrada. 

Marco Estrada starts Wednesday night

Marco Estrada starts Wednesday night

Gray worked six innings allowing three singles and two doubles as he walked two and struck out nine. After Smoak reached third on Gray’s high throw, Troy Tulowitzki followed with a run-scoring ground ball.

It was Gray’s sixth straight start of two or fewer earned runs allowed. 

Ezequiel Carrera reached on an infield single, Ryan Goins hit a two-out, two-run double and Jose Bautista doubled as well.

Last year and the year before there were plenty of scouts in town watching the Jays ... the evaluators were here to plan and prepare in case their teams met Toronto in post-season. This time they are looking for deals in the bargain-basement aisle.