A's exit stage left to standing ovation

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A's exit stage left to standing ovation

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- The sellout crowd stood on their feet and roared in applause. This was the scene many A's players expected to see when Game 5 of the American League Division Series was decided in Oakland. They didn't expect to see it happen after they lost the game 6-0, though.

INSTANT REPLAY: A's magical season ends
After the final out was recorded by the Tigers, something special happened. The fans started cheering. As the Tigers celebrated on the field, more and more people rose to their feet and joined in the applause. The A's players took notice and came out of the dugout and tipped their hats to the crowd. Some of the Tigers took a moment to stop what they were doing and salute the A's players as well. One last "Lets go Oakland" chant broke out.
RATTO: Oakland rekindles love affair with baseball
After everything they had been through they deserved it. This 2012 Oakland Athletics team overcame a 13-game deficit to win the American League West. No team in the history of baseball had bounced back from a five-game deficit with nine games to play to win the division, but the A's did. They fought through the losses of key veterans like Brandon McCarthy, Brandon Inge, Bartolo Colon, and ace pitcher Brett Anderson. They survived the surprising trade of veteran leader Kurt Suzuki. They banded together and supported pitcher Pat Neshek and his wife Stephanee after the tragic and sudden death of their newborn baby son. Any one of those circumstances could have crumbled a lot of teams; it didn't slow down the A's. Oakland ended up popping champagne bottles and celebrating like mad men twice in a span of three days. It seemed every time the team was dealt a crippling blow they would rise up and throw a haymaker back. When third baseman Scott Sizemore was injured early in camp, eventually Brandon Inge was acquired and a week after he joined the team he hit four home runs and 16 RBI in a span of five days. When he went down, Josh Donaldson exploded back onto the scene and never looked back. When Brandon McCarthy hit the DL, A.J. Griffin was ready to take the reigns. He went an Oakland record 6-0 to start his career. When Bartolo Colon was suspended, Travis Blackley and Dan Straily stepped in. When Kurt Suzuki was traded, Derek Norris and George Kottaras took over. At one point the team had 18 rookies on the roster. They carried 12 into the postseason. The A's had a Major League-leading 15 walk-offs and 11 different players were responsible. It was in every sense of the word a total team effort. The A's were outmatched, outspent, and undermanned entering the season. Their 55,372,500 payroll was dwarfed by most teams in baseball and the second lowest in the league. They ended up leading the league with 589,069 spent per regular season win. They even tied an Oakland record by winning 12 consecutive road games. The A's took a risk on a toolsy player from Cuba named Yoenis Cespedes; he ended up looking like a superstar in the making. They traded an All-Star closer for a fourth outfielder named Josh Reddick, and he ended up hitting 32 home runs. They traded their best two starting pitchers in the offseason for two rookies named Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone, who ended up tied for an Oakland rookie record with 13 wins each. So how did this roster full of guys that were written off forge a run that caught the attention of the baseball world? They didn't care what was said by the so-called experts outside of the clubhouse and they simply had fun. They got along with each other. They played for the love of the game and not the money. As manager Bob Melvin often said, the A's take it one game at a time. It worked for 166 games and then they ran out of tomorrows. The story of the 2012 Oakland Athletics may have ended on Thursday night, but it might just be getting started. The team only has four free agents -- McCarthy, Colon, Inge, and Jonny Gomes. Stephen Drew has a mutual option for 2013 and could elect to test out free agency. General Manager Billy Beane is known to wheel and deal but he hinted strongly that will not be the case with the core of this team. A bulk of the players are cost controlled and on the rise. We've seen our last 2012 A's Bernie Lean, heard the last eighth inning rendition of 'Call Me Maybe,' and tasted the last sweet victory of a walk-off pie. Now we can only imagine what next year's season will bring. The A's may have lost in the ALDS, but they deserved the applause. This season is over, but it won't be soon forgotten by the fans or the players that took part in it. I know I will never forget it.

Graveman takes to leadership role while Gray is sidelined

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Graveman takes to leadership role while Gray is sidelined

MESA, Ariz. — Kendall Graveman feels comfortable with the leadership role that comes with being the A’s Opening Night starter, but he pointed out how all the starters will carry the load together.

“I told BoMel this morning when he told me, I said ‘I’m the No. 1 starter for Opening Night, but then whoever is the second guy is the No. 1 starter for us the next night,’ and that’s the way we have to go about it to be successful,” Graveman said Thursday afternoon.

That’s a message that Graveman says he’s already trying to spread to Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton, the starters who will follow him in the rotation. Oakland’s final two rotation spots are up for grabs.

With Sonny Gray sidelined by injury for what’s expected to be most of April, Graveman — with all of 52 major league starts under his belt — becomes the veteran leader of the A’s staff in the interim. Manager Bob Melvin gave Graveman the official word Thursday morning that he would take the ball April 3 against the Angels at the Coliseum. But shortly after Gray went down with a strained lat muscle March 7, Melvin approached Graveman about being his likely Opening Night guy.

It’s a natural fit. Graveman went 10-11 with a 4.11 ERA last season, and while those aren’t eye-catching numbers, they don’t tell the story of how valuable he was as the A’s lost starter after starter to injury.

Graveman has improved his mental preparation and his physical conditioning since coming over from Toronto in the Josh Donaldson trade. He’s become a meticulous studier to get ready for his starts. He’s picked the brain of veterans such as Gray and Barry Zito, who he played alongside with Triple-A Nashville for part of 2015.

And, not to be overlooked, his stuff and pitch arsenal have improved since he first arrived to the A’s. Though he’s a sinkerballer who relies more on location than velocity, the A’s clocked Graveman as high as 98 miles per hour on the radar gun in his last start.

“He’s kind of on a mission to be one of those guys that pitches at top of the rotation for many years to come,” Melvin said.

A's name Kendall Graveman 2017 Opening Day starter

A's name Kendall Graveman 2017 Opening Day starter

MESA, Ariz. -- Kendall Graveman was announced as the A's Opening Night starter, confirmation of a move that had become obvious the more that spring training progressed.

With Sonny Gray set to begin the season on the disabled list with a strained lat muscle, Graveman is the veteran presence in the rotation and coming off the best 2016 season of any Oakland starter.

His performance this spring only strengthened his status. In his last outing, he threw six innings and faced just one batter over the minimum in that span.

Manager Bob Melvin said Sean Manaea will be the No. 2 starter followed by Jharel Cotton. The last two rotation spots are still open, though Melvin acknowledged that Andrew Triggs would have the inside track on one if the season began tomorrow.

Jesse Hahn and Raul Alcantara are also competing for those jobs. Alcantara takes the ball against Milwaukee on Thursday.