Sonny Gray quickly endearing himself to Yankees faithful

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 03: Sonny Gray /

Sonny Gray pitched very well in his first start for the Yankees. Unfortunately, his new club let him down on both sides of the ball.

As the old saying goes, pitching and defense win championships. Yet as the Yankees showed on Thursday night in Cleveland, without production from the offense, even solid pitching performances can go unrewarded.

Aside from a 7th inning Gary Sanchez solo homer, the Bombers’ bats were completely held in check by Indians ace Corey Kluber — as he allowed a mere three hits and one walk while striking out 11 in a complete game masterpiece.

Kluber’s dominance comes as little surprise, considering the fact he’s 9-3 with a 2.77 ERA and is ranked fourth among MLB starters in WAR this season.

The Yankees offense continued its second-half struggles, especially over the clubs last five games (1-4), scoring just 14 runs and batting a putrid .181.

However, newly acquired starter Sonny Gray put together a quality start, allowing just two earned runs, four hits and three walks, while fanning six batters in six innings of work.

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It’s safe to say coming back from the worst defensive first inning of the season for the Yankees was completely unfair to Gray. Three horrendous errors (Clint Frazier, Chase Headley and Tyler Wade were the culprits) set the stage for an immediate uphill climb that was impossible to overcome versus “The Klubot.”

Unfortunately, Gray is accustomed to dreadful defensive efforts as 11 of the 48 runs he allowed in 16 starts with the Athletics were unearned.

Regardless of taking the loss, Gray told the New York Daily News he felt good on the mound, yet wished he could have done more to help his club win.

"“At the end of the day, it’s all about winning,” Gray said. “No matter what happens on the field after the ninth inning — if you win the game you’re going to be happy, and when you come away with a loss it kind of leaves a bad feeling in your stomach. We want to win in any way possible, and we just weren’t able to do that tonight.”"

Prior to the game, The Players’ Tribune released an article titled “New York, I’m Ready to Go.” Penned by Gray, he spoke about his fondness for the Yankees that actually dates back to 2009, his 2 1/2-year-old son’s new interlocking NY cap and waxed poetic about the tantalizing possibilities that stand before him.

"“One of the baseball teams that really meant something to me growing up was the 2009 Yankees — the World Series winner, with CC and A.J. Burnett at the top of the rotation,” Gray wrote. “That was the year after I’d graduated high school, and had gotten drafted, but then decided to go to college — and it was right around the age where I was really trying to figure out if baseball was something that I could turn into a career. And I just remember loving to watch that Yankees team, as they made their run that year, and being so impressed by them, and I guess kind of pumped up about baseball by them — just getting very caught up in it.“And so it’s pretty cool to look back on that time — and now think about how, eight years later, I got traded to the Yankees in the middle of a pennant race."

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It’s nice to see a player share intimate details of himself, the ability to express the competitor within and also make it abundantly clear that he wants to not only play for the Yankees but win at all costs.