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Oakland stalwart Gray takes mound against Baltimore today at O.co

Josh Donaldson was the hero Friday night, and he earned the obligatory bath during this post-game interview.
Josh Donaldson was the hero Friday night, and he earned the obligatory bath during this post-game interview.
Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

(OAKLAND)—So far, the big Fourth of July Weekend trade for the Oakland Athletics has netted the following results: 29 innings pitched, 27 hits allowed, 15 earned runs, seven walks, 19 strikeouts and six home runs allowed.

And in the only ledger that counts, the A's are 1- 3 in the five starts pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel have made since the club acquired them from the Chicago Cubs.

Today, it will be up to Oakland's Sonny Gray—clearly representing the "old guard" of the A's rotation, as the only starter who was on the team's big-league roster last fall—to make sure the team stays on the right track coming out of the All-Star break last week.

Samardzija gave up four runs in seven innings on Friday night against the American League East-leading Baltimore Orioles, but he was let off the hook for a loss when third baseman—and fellow All-Star—Josh Donaldson hit a three-run home run in the ninth inning to win the game for Oakland, 5-4.

Hammel wasn't so lucky on Saturday night: before he registered an out, it was 3-0, and the A's lost the game, 8-4.

So it's up to Gray to win the series for Oakland in today's matinee rubber game of the matchup at the O.co Coliseum, and perhaps that's how it should be for the young phenom: the righty has a 10-3 record and a 2.79 ERA to go with 108 strikeouts. With numbers like that, perhaps Gray should have been the A's eighth All-Star representative last week, as he's certainly throwing the ball like one.

He's won his last four decisions over the last five outings, allowing just three earned runs in his last three starts—against Toronto, San Francisco and Seattle. The Oakland brass would love another outing like that today, if for no other reason that to put Hammel's disastrous start last night behind them.

The Orioles send Kevin Gausman to the mound, and back on June 7 in Baltimore, he held the A's to one run on four hits in seven innings. So the Oakland lineup has seen him before, and hopefully, they'll make some adjustments this time around.

The A's, of course, need to keep winning, because the Los Angeles Angels are hot on their heels still, just 1.5 games back in the AL West division race. That was the point of the Smardzija-Hammel swap, which hasn't really paid off yet, obviously.

Game time is 1:05 p.m. today at the Coliseum.