Instant Replay: Cotton tosses gem, A's blank Royals in series opener

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AP

Instant Replay: Cotton tosses gem, A's blank Royals in series opener

BOX SCORE

KANSAS CITY – Rising to the occasion in front of a packed crowd for the Royals’ home opener, Jharel Cotton delivered his finest start as a major leaguer.

The rookie limited the home team to two hits over seven innings as the A’s blanked Kansas City 2-0 to open a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium. Coming off a lackluster first start against the Angels, Cotton summoned the poise and command that marked his impressive September debut last season.

He was particularly dialed in with his changeup, getting Royals to chase his go-to offering all game. The odd 3:15 p.m. start (local time) made for mid-game shadows in front of the mound that made things no easier for hitters.

Cotton tied his career-high in innings pitched and enjoyed his first scoreless outing as a big leaguer. He struck out six and walked three.

The A’s got the only runs they would need on Khris Davis’ two-run homer off Ian Kennedy (0-2) in the fourth.

The afternoon began in emotional fashion for the Royals, who honored pitcher Yordano Ventura with a lengthy pregame ceremony. Ventura died in an offseason car crash in the Dominican Republic.

Starting pitching report

The Royals never advance a runner past second off Cotton (1-1). He struck out the side in the fifth, getting the Royals to wave at fastballs and off-speed stuff out of the zone. He benefited from a 5-4-3 double play to end the second and pitched around a leadoff walk in the seventh.

Bullpen report

The relief corps picked up where Cotton left off to salt away his victory. Santiago Casilla struck out the side in the eighth. With lefties due up for two of Kansas City’s first three hitters in the ninth, manager Bob Melvin called on Sean Doolittle for the ninth. A walk and a single, mixed in with strikeouts of Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer put runners on the corners with two outs. But Doolittle got former Athletic Brandon Moss swinging to end it.

At the plate

Davis got aggressive on a 3-0 count against Kennedy and hit a towering shot to right-center that rode the jet stream and carried over the wall for a two-run shot, his fourth homer of the season. The only other players with four homers to start the day were the Royals’ Salvador Perez and Houston’s George Springer.

In the field

The A’s missed out on a double play in the sixth on a replay reversal, as video showed Trevor Plouffe pulled his foot off the second-base bag while trying to make the turn. The third baseman was shifted over behind second base for the start of the play. Cotton got out of the inning unscored upon anyway.

Up next

After a day off Tuesday, the A’s and Royals resume this three-game series with a 5:15 p.m. game Wednesday. Andrew Triggs (1-0, 0.00), coming off a strong first start of the season, goes for the A’s with Jason Hammel (0-0, 5.40) throwing for Kansas City.

Instant Replay: Graveman's strong start not enough, Angels finish sweep of A's

Instant Replay: Graveman's strong start not enough, Angels finish sweep of A's

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM – If the A’s were searching for inspiration, they got some from their starting pitcher Thursday.

In his first start back from the disabled list, Kendall Graveman turned in a gutsy six innings that included a highlight-reel unassisted double play that solicited a visit from the training staff to make sure he was OK.

But the A’s offense couldn’t make Graveman’s night complete. Oakland scraped together just three hits in a 2-1 loss that completed a three-game sweep for the Los Angeles Angels.

It was the A’s second 2-1 defeat of the series, and the third time during their current four-game losing streak that they’ve been held to one run.

The Angels scored twice off Graveman in the first on a two-out rally that included Mike Trout’s double, Albert Pujols’ RBI single off the right field wall and C.J. Cron’s double to the warning track that Jaff Decker couldn’t haul in.

That was all that was needed to make a winner of Ricky Nolasco (2-2), who went 5 2/3 innings and avenged an Opening Night loss at the Coliseum on April 3.

Starting pitching report

Graveman (2-1) gave up the two runs in the first inning, then buckled down and allowed the Angels no more in his first start since April 14, when he was lost to a strained right shoulder. He went six innings, allowed six hits, struck out four and didn’t walk anyone. It was a good sign that Graveman’s fastball consistently registered in the mid-90’s. And though he appeared shaken up after his acrobatic double play, he retired his final seven hitters, including back-to-back called strikeouts of Trout and Pujols in the sixth to finish his night.

Bullpen report

Ryan Madson and Daniel Coulombe threw scoreless innings to keep the game close.

At the plate

Besides Yonder Alonso, who drove in three runs Wednesday and had a bloop single for an RBI on Thursday, it’s hard to know who the A’s can turn to right now for an offensive spark. Leadoff hitter Jaff Decker, filling in for the injured Rajai Davis, went 2-for-11 in the series and isn’t making an impact at the plate or in the field. Cleanup man Khris Davis went 1-for-9 in the series and Ryon Healy went 1-for-14, including chasing a high fastball for a strikeout with the bases loaded in the sixth.

In the field

Graveman turned in the first unassisted double play by an A’s pitcher since Blue Moon Odom did it July 11, 1971 against the then-California Angels. He had runners on the corners with no outs when Juan Graterol hit a comebacker to the mound. Graveman caught Ben Revere in a rundown between third and home. He made a sprinting tag of Revere near the third base bag just as Cliff Pennington was trying to advance from first all the way to third on the play. Graveman tagged Revere, then leapt over Revere and tagged Pennington out as he tumbled to the ground. It was unclear what bothered Graveman after the play. But after a visit from trainers, he stayed in the game and pitched well.

Attendance

Tonight's reported attendance in Anaheim was 37,603.

Up next

The A’s continue this nine-game road trip against the first-place Astros. Friday — Jharel Cotton (2-2, 4.76) vs. Charlie Morton (1-2, 4.29), 5:10 p.m. Saturday — Andrew Triggs (3-1, 2.43) vs. Joe Musgrove (1-1, 5.91), 4:10 p.m. Sunday — Jesse Hahn (1-1, 2.08) vs. lefty Dallas Keuchel (4-0, 1.22), 11:10 a.m. All three games air on NBC Sports California.

A's lineup: Joyce jumps to No. 2 against right-hander Nolasco

A's lineup: Joyce jumps to No. 2 against right-hander Nolasco

With the A's going up against the right-handed Ricky Nolasco Thursday night in LA, manager Bob Melvin is pushing his lefties up in the order.

Oakland A's (10-11)

1. Jaff Decker (L) CF
2. Matt Joyce (L) RF
3. Jed Lowrie (S) 2B
4. Khris Davis (R) LF
5. Yonder Alonso (L) 1B
6. Ryon Healy (R) 3B
7. Trevor Plouffe (R) DH
8. Josh Phegley (R) C
9. Adam Rosales (R) SS
Kendall Graveman -- RHP

Los Angeles Angels (11-12)

1. Yunel Escobar (R) 3B
2. Kole Calhoun (L) RF
3. Mike Trout (R) CF
4. Albert Pujols (R) DH
5. C.J. Cron (R) 1B
6. Andrelton Simmons (R) SS
7. Ben Revere (L) LF
8. Cliff Pennington (S) 2B
9. Juan Graterol (R) C
Ricky Nolasco -- RHP