Why Yankees have to pray Sonny Gray figures it out

NEW YORK — It seems like after time he’s stunk, Sonny Gray has said he’s felt good. Gray, and manager Aaron Boone, continue to say how Gray’s stuff is just fine, though the results are often putrid.

Yet Gray doesn’t know what’s causing himself to be the weakest link in the Yankees’ rotation.

After another terrible night in Friday’s 10-5 loss to his former team, the A’s, at Yankee Stadium, Gray was asked if there was a commonality to the struggles that have led him to a 6.39 ERA in eight starts.

He paused to think.

“Maybe the home run. Maybe the big inning,” he said. “I mean, that’s the golden question here, isn’t it.” 

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Gray gave up five runs in five innings as the Yankees lost in consecutive games for the first time since early April.

His nine hits allowed were a season high. The A’s three-run third inning, in which Gray gave up homers in an 0-2 count to Khris Davis (solo) and a 3-1 count to Matt Chapman (a two-run blast), was Gray’s lowest point.

Only one rare occasions has Gray resembled the pitcher the Yankees thought they were getting when they sent three MLB.com top 100 prospects to Oakland for Gray last July.

Gray had a career 3.45 ERA in five seasons in Oakland, making an All-Star game and finishing third in the Cy Young in 2015.

After giving up just two runs in six innings in each of his last two starts, Boone hoped Gray was turning a corner. He hoped that Austin Romine, officially his personal catcher, was one of the catalysts. 

But Romine was behind the plate Friday and it didn’t appear to make much of a difference.

Still, the Yankees have no choice but to ride Gray out. 

They’re already a starting pitcher short with Jordan Montgomery (elbow strain) out until sometime in June. Domingo German has jumped into that spot.

Luis Cessa (left oblique strain) has been out since April 19 with no timetable for his return. One of their top pitching prospects, Chance Adams, hasn’t been very good at Triple-A and on Friday, Justus Sheffield, their best pitching prospect, was pulled from his start with shoulder stiffness.

There are no other clear options. The Yankees will have to let Gray figure it out.

Boone said he thought he saw positives from Gray, who has only made it through five innings in four of his eight starts.

“I thought he actually regrouped a little bit and again I had no issue with the stuff and I think where we see the progress is that after the three-run inning,” Boone said. “I think early in the season, it would really spiral on him. I don’t see that happening.  I thought he had a little bit of a hard time putting some guys away but I thought he competed and at least was able to get us through five and was able to hang around enough.”

Said Gray, “Yeah, it definitely sucks. But for me it’s over with and we’ve got to move on and get ready for the next time I get out there.”

Yankees fans: Gray is here to stay. And the Yankees are just crossing their fingers at this point.

Brendan Kuty may be reached at bkuty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrendanKutyNJ. Find NJ.com Yankees on Facebook.