Pratt's Instant Replay: Rangers 9, A's 7

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Pratt's Instant Replay: Rangers 9, A's 7

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ARLINGTON -- The A's fell behind big in the first inning and tried to battle their way out of a five-run hole. Trading haymakers with the Rangers in Texas is a tough task. And the home team took this one 9-7. Oakland hit five home runs in the losing effort.Starting Pitching ReportIt wasn't Travis Blackley's day. He gave up five runs on five hits, two of which were home runs, in the first inning. He never made it back out to the mound for the second inning. It was Blackley's worst outing of the season. He gave up five runs to the Rangers on June 5 in Oakland but that was over four and two-thirds innings.Blackley has allowed nine runs, seven earned, over three innings in his last two starting assignments. The five first inning runs are the most the Rangers have scored since they plated six runs on May 25 at home against Toronto.Bullpen ReportThe A's called on Jim Miller to start the second inning. He lasted two innings but gave up two runs. In the second inning he allowed back-to-back doubles to Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton that scored a run for the Rangers. He also gave up a double to Nelson Cruz to start the third inning and an RBI single to Mike Napoli.The A's finally got Jeremy Accardo in a game. He joined the team in New York and hadn't been used yet. He gave up two runs in the fourth inning but pitched a scoreless fifth. He likely needed to work off some of the rust. He hadn't pitched since Aug. 16 for the River Cats in Triple-A.Jesse Chavez pitched a much-needed scoreless inning of relief. He has allowed a run or more in each of his first outings. Pat Neshek also contributed a scoreless frame.At the PlateThe A's did their best to keep pace with the Rangers, but the five-run head start was too tough to overcome. One major positive was the pop displayed by Josh Reddick in the second inning. He drove a ball an estimated distance of 399 feet into the second deck in right field for his 30th home run of the season. The recent slump Reddick had been on could have been attributed to pressing as he wanted to reach that milestone mark of 30. Reddick was batting .128 (5 for 39) with zero RBI since he connected on his 29th home run on Sept. 16.Oakland kept fighting despite falling behind. They scored in the second, third, and fourth innings. Jonny Gomes drove home Adam Rosales with an RBI double. Rosales had to make a crazy head-first dive to avoid the incoming throw but Napoli didn't come up with the ball cleanly at home. Derek Norris hit his sixth home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field, in the fourth inning to make it a 7-4 game.Yoenis Cespedes sent his 22nd home run of the season into the left field stands. The ball traveled an estimated 412 feet. Cespedes' home run was the 100th homer hit by an A's player since the All-Star break. Moments later, Brandon Moss went deep for his 20th of the season, and the A's MLB-leading 101st since the break. Two batters later Reddick connected for his 31st of the season and put the A's within two runs of the Rangers.With Reddick (31), Cespedes (22), and Moss (20), the A's have three players with over 20 home runs for the first time since 2006, when Frank Thomas (39), Nick Swisher (35), and Eric Chavez (22) did it.In the FieldReddick made a catch in the first inning that sent him on a collision course with the wall in center field. He hauled it in seamlessly. Adam Rosales made a full-extension dive on a ball hit up the middle but couldn't get up to throw out the runner in time.AttendanceThe Rangers announced an attendance of 43,796.Dot RaceRed wins the live action dot race. The green dot got shoved into the railing of the A's dugout and almost took out some A's players.Up NextThe A's head home for the remainder of the season. They have completed a stretch of 17 of 20 road games. The three home games in Oakland felt more like another stop on the trip than a home stand. They won 10 of the 17 away games and 12 of the last 20 games overall.A.J. Griffin (6-1, 2.80 ERA) starts the home stand for the A's against left-handed pitcher Blake Beavan (10-10, 4.64 ERA)

Graveman delivers in front of 'Blue Moon' Odom, rest of A's can't

Graveman delivers in front of 'Blue Moon' Odom, rest of A's can't

ANAHEIM — The A’s collection of individual highlights during their visit to Angel Stadium shouldn’t have equated to a three-game sweep for their opponent.

Jesse Hahn fired eight one-hit innings Tuesday, the same night Josh Phegley delivered a pinch-hit homer in the 10th before the A’s lost in 11 innings. On Thursday, Kendall Graveman turned in perhaps the defensive play of the 2017 season by a pitcher, recording an unassisted double play that was the first by an A’s pitcher in 46 years.

All great moments to relive in the clubhouse afterward, but surely they ring a bit hollow given the final outcomes. The A’s were swept by an Angels team that, like Oakland, has been hit hard by the injury bug. Los Angeles is without key relievers Huston Street, Andrew Bailey, Cam Bedrosian and Mike Morin, not to mention starter Garrett Richards among others.

Yet the Angels pitching staff twice held the A’s to one run over the three-game series, including Thursday’s 2-1 defeat, when the A’s mustered just three hits.

“We’re a little streaky right now,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “… Give them credit, they pitched really well, and they really are down a lot of guys in the bullpen. We would expect to do a little more damage.”

They couldn’t Thursday, and that it made it tough to savor Graveman’s incredible play the way they should have.

With runners on the corners and no outs, he fielded Juan Graterol’s comebacker and caught Ben Revere in a rundown between third and home. Graveman ran him down and after applying the tag, hurdled Revere and made the tag on Cliff Pennington, who was trying to advance from first to third in the chaos.

“That’s probably the best play I’ve ever seen a pitcher make, hurdling over an (opponent) to get the second out unassisted,” Melvin said. “I didn’t even know how to put that one down on my card.”

Graveman, one of the A’s better overall athletes, was asked if he’d ever recorded an unassisted double play before.

“Never. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one,” he said. “(Ryan) Madson said he’s never seen one and he’s watched over 2,000 games.”

Incredibly, the last A’s pitcher to pull off an unassisted double play previously was in attendance Thursday night. John “Blue Moon” Odom did it back on July 11, 1971, also against the Angels. Odom attends most of the A’s games in Anaheim, and he’s struck up a friendship with Graveman over the years.

“Every time we come here and even in spring training, I try to catch up with Blue Moon Odom and see how he’s doing,” Graveman said. “He and Wash (former A’s infield coach Ron Washington) are friends so we always cut up about Wash. He’s a great guy. He sits in the front row. He came in and saw me right before stretch and told me ‘I’m gonna be front row watching you.’ That is pretty neat that that happened.”

A’s first baseman Yonder Alonso said he’s never surprised to see Graveman make a great defensive play.

“The guy’s a pitcher, but it feels like he’s a shortstop playing the position.”

Graveman was visited by trainers after the fifth-inning play, but Melvin said it was mainly to give the pitcher a breather and let him get his adrenaline under control. Neither Graveman nor his manager revealed anything specific that bothered Graveman. Seeing him stay in the game and complete six innings of two-run ball had to be encouraging for Melvin.

“The first thing I asked him was ‘What’d you fall on?’” Melvin said. “He said, ‘My butt.’ I said, ‘Well, you’re all right then.’ But you’re not gonna see that play again probably.”

The A’s are giving their manager and fans some accomplishments to marvel over. As they move on to Houston trying to halt a four-game losing streak, they just need to figure things out on the scoreboard.

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.