Athletics

Strong favorite to start opener, Graveman makes quick work of Padres in win

Strong favorite to start opener, Graveman makes quick work of Padres in win

MESA, Ariz. — As good as Kendall Graveman was on the mound Saturday, the best evidence of how much he’s developed came in his postgame comments.

The A’s right-hander talked matter-of-factly about his sterling outing in a 2-1 victory against the San Diego Padres. Graveman retired 17 of 19 batters he faced over six innings, and it wasn’t until the sixth that he was forced to throw a pitch from the stretch.

If ever there was a sign that he deserves his first Opening Night start, it came Saturday as he struck out six and allowed just two hits with no walks. The only blemish was a solo homer in the third from former A’s farmhand Dusty Coleman.

“Solo home runs don’t get you beat a lot of times in this game,” Graveman said. “What gets you beat is you walk a guy, a guy gets a hit, and then the homer comes. If we can limit damage there and make him hit the first pitch, a lot of times the odds are in my favor.”

Listen to him dissect an outing, and it’s apparent the 26-year-old Graveman now expects himself to be as efficient as he was Saturday. In an Oakland rotation that will be young and quite short on major league experience, especially while Sonny Gray is sidelined, Graveman has established himself as the veteran anchor of the staff.

And though manager Bob Melvin is holding out on naming his Opening Night starter, it’s obvious who will receive the honor.

“In spring games, I’ll alert him who the (dangerous) base runners are and he already knows,” Melvin said. “He’s doing some scouting before he goes out there. Each and every year he’s been here, he’s gotten more serious about his preparation, and obviously his stuff’s really good.”

The other sign of Graveman being dialed in — Saturday’s time of game clocked in at a lightning-quick 2 hours, 15 minutes. The right-hander contributed greatly to that, inducing early contact and working quickly, which the defenders behind him love.

“I think it really is the way I want to pitch,” he said. “‘Hey, let’s get the ball, let’s go.’”

 

A's adjust rotation in order to give one struggling starter extra rest

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AP

A's adjust rotation in order to give one struggling starter extra rest

The A’s announced a shuffling in their upcoming starting rotation, with Daniel Gossett being called up from Triple-A to start Wednesday at Baltimore and Sean Manaea being pushed back to get some extra rest.

Following Thursday’s day off, Kendall Graveman will now take the ball in Friday’s series opener against Texas at the Coliseum, with Manaea going Saturday. That gives Manaea three extra days of rest from his originally scheduled turn Wednesday. The lefty has seen his fastball velocity diminish in recent starts, even though he had better results Friday at Houston, when he went six innings and gave up three runs.

Gossett was sent down to Nashville on Aug. 3 because the A’s had an upcoming day off in the schedule and they wanted him to keep pitching on turn in the minors. He’s coming off back-to-back strong starts in the minors, striking out 16 with just four earned runs over 12 innings.

Inserting Gossett into the rotation will temporarily give the A’s six starters and also provide a little extra rest for Paul Blackburn, who left Tuesday’s start against Baltimore in the fifth inning after he was struck on the right wrist/hand area by a line drive. X-rays afterward showed no fracture, and Blackburn appeared visibly relieved by that as he addressed reporters in Baltimore after the A’s 6-4 win.

“It’s definitely sore, but I got X-rays and they were negative, so that’s good,” Blackburn said. “But it’s definitely sore. I’m just glad it’s not broken. When I was out there, I couldn’t move my hand. I couldn’t squeeze.”

He said he was hopeful of being able to make his next start but did not know the chances of that.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's 6-4 win over the Orioles

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AP

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's 6-4 win over the Orioles

BOX SCORE

The A’s showed they can make themselves at home in one of the majors’ most homer-happy ballparks.

A day after Baltimore homered four times, Oakland did the same at Camden Yards to power to a 6-4 victory over the Orioles. Ryon Healy went deep twice and continued his hot streak of late, and Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis also homered. The win ended the day on a good note for the A’s, but they hope they don’t get bad news on starting pitcher Paul Blackburn.

He left the game in the fifth after getting hit on the right wrist by a liner. After the game, manager Bob Melvin said Blackburn has a bruised hand/wrist.

Healy has a 10-game hitting streak, and he’s hitting .375 over his past 14 contests. He entered the night having homered just twice over his last 41 games.

The A’s led 5-2 in the eighth before Baltimore rallied for two runs, helped by a missed check-swing appeal call, on which first base ump Angel Hernandez didn’t ring up Tim Beckham on what appeared to be a sure third strike on replays. That extended the inning and made for a tense ninth inning, but the A’s improved to 2-3 on this six-game road trip that concludes Wednesday afternoon.

EARLY EXIT: Blackburn, after getting knocked around a bit in his previous two starts, was locked in Tuesday and impressed through four scoreless innings. Then Trey Mancini led off the bottom of the fifth by lining a comebacker that appeared to hit Blackburn flush near his right wrist. He walked around the mound in obvious pain as A’s head trainer Nick Paparesta came out to check on him. Blackburn was removed from the game.

EXTENDED DUTY AGAIN: When the Orioles loaded the bases in the eighth with two outs, closer Blake Treinen was summoned from the bullpen in the eighth for the second time in three games. He ended the eighth and stranded three by retiring Adam Jones on a groundout. The bottom of the ninth began with a throwing error from shortstop Chad Pinder, but Treinen closed out the game with help from a 5-4-3 double play and a strikeout of Chris Davis.

UNDERRATED PLAY OF THE GAME: Treinen got the ground ball he needed with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth. But it came down to Matt Olson making a great scoop at first base when Pinder short-hopped his throw across the diamond.

ENCORE FROM JED: Jed Lowrie homered for the second day in a row, and the A’s went deep four times total. Along with Healy’s two blasts, Khris Davis connected for his 34th of the season in the top of the ninth to make it a 6-4 game and provide some breathing room.

CONTINUING TO IMPRESS: It was an eventful day for Boog Powell even before he took the field. He enjoyed some barbecue with former Orioles slugger Boog Powell, the man who inspired his own nickname. Then those two held a Face Time chat with a third “Boog” Powell, — a youngster from Tennessee who played in the Little League World Series.

Then Powell, hitting leadoff for the second time in three games, singled in his first two at-bats and scored a run. He’s continued to find ways to provide the A’s a spark since being called up from Triple-A Nashville.