Sonny Gray was in a groove, but then he landed on the injured list for the second time this season.
The Minnesota right-hander is scheduled to return to the mound Wednesday afternoon when the Twins wrap up a three-game road series against the Seattle Mariners.
Gray (3-1, 2.41 ERA) retired 18 of the 20 batters he faced in a May 29 start against visiting the Kansas City Royals before leaving with a right pectoral strain.
“It was another great start. It’s fun. He’s like a little bulldog out there, going right at them,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It was very nice — until we had to take him out.”
With no guarantee Gray could make his next start, the Twins decided to proceed with caution and put him on the 10-day injured list. That came after a hamstring injury sidelined him from April 17-May 6.
“He felt some stiffness in the pec and instead of pitching him possibly not at full strength, that thought really we didn’t want to contemplate,” Baldelli said. “It wasn’t the easiest of calls.”
Gray, acquired from the Cincinnati Reds during spring training, had won three consecutive starts when he returned to the IL. In five May outings, he allowed five runs over 27 1/3 innings (1.65 ERA), with seven walks and 34 strikeouts.
“It’s just like you play with your kids in the backyard. It’s the same thing,” Gray said. “You just go out there and you just play and you just have fun and you just let it go. Let everything else go and just go and see what happens, and it’s great.
“It’s just fun to do that.”
Gray got a no-decision in his first start of the season against the Mariners on April 9 in Minneapolis. He went 4 2/3 innings and gave up two runs on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts in a game the Twins lost 4-3. Gray is 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 13 career starts against Seattle.
It will be the second consecutive game in which the Twins’ starting pitcher returns after a layoff. Joe Ryan was activated from the COVID-19 list on Tuesday and went 4 2/3 innings in a 5-0 loss that evened the series at one win apiece. Ryan gave up two-run homers to Eugenio Suarez and Ty France.
The Mariners are set to counter Wednesday with lefty Marco Gonzales (3-6, 3.63), who is 0-3 with a 9.37 ERA in four career starts against the Twins. He lasted just two innings in a 10-4 loss April 10 in Minneapolis, though just two of the six runs he allowed were earned.
The Mariners were without J.P. Crawford on Tuesday because of flu-like symptoms, and the shortstop is questionable for the series finale.
Dylan Moore replaced Crawford and went 1-for-2 with a walk, two stolen bases and two runs. He also turned a double play.
Seattle came out on top thanks in large part to Logan Gilbert, who pitched six scoreless innings of four-hit ball.
“He’s putting together, it looks to me, like maybe an All-Star-type season,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “I think he’s certainly distinguishing himself as one of the better starters in this league.”
–Field Level Media