by Charlie O. Mallonee
Pitchers are supposed to need two to three starts before really being ready for the long regular season that is Major League Baseball. Someone forgot to tell that to A’s starter Kendall Graveman.
Graveman won his second game of the young season on Saturday night as the Athletics beat the Texas Rangers in Arlington 6-1. Graveman carried a no-hitter through 6.2-innings. The A’s righty lost his no-hit bid when Mike Napoli hit a sinker over the center field wall for a two-out home run. Graveman finished the inning after giving up a single to Rougned Odor – he induced Jonathon Lucroy to line out for the third out.
Graveman went 7.0-innings giving up one run (earned) on two hits. He struck out five and walked one. Graveman threw 85 pitches (58 strikes).
The Oakland bullpen did its job to perfection on Saturday night as well. Santiago Casilla came in and worked a perfect eighth inning that included one strike out. Ryan Madson took the mound in the ninth in a non-save situation and put nothing but zeros in book except for two strikeouts.
With Sonny Gray still on the sidelines, having Graveman (2-0, 2.08) perform this well in the number one spot in the rotation had to be encouraging to the Athletics coaching staff.
The A’s scored all of their runs in the final four innings of the game. They scored one in the sixth, one in the seventh, three in the eight and an one insurance run in the top of the ninth inning.
Yonder Alonso was the man of the hour for the A’s on Saturday night. He went 2-for-4 at the plate, scored two runs and drove in two runs. He moved up to third base on Mike Napoli’s throwing error in the seventh inning and scored on Rajai Davis’ sacrifice fly. Alonso scored his second run when he hit first home run of the season in the bottom of eighth inning with Jed Lowrie on base.
Jed Lowrie continues to be on fire at the plate for the A’s. He went 3-for-4 including a double on Saturday with one RBI and one run scored. Lowrie’s batting average now stands at an impressive .381.
Rajai Davis had what may have been a breakout game for him by going 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.
Oakland scored their six runs on 10 hits. They left seven runners on base. The A’s were 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
Yu Darvish (0-1, 3.65) started his second game of the season and took the loss. Darvish worked 6.0-innings and gave up one run (earned) on four hits. He struck five A’s batters and walked three. Darvish threw 91 pitches (61 strikes).
The Rangers used a total of five pitchers in the game.
Texas left two men on base and went 0-for-1 with runners in scoring position. When you only have two base runners, your RISP numbers look really sad.
The rubber game of the series will be played on Sunday
The A’s and Rangers will get underway at 12:05 p.m. on Sunday. Oakland’s LHP Sean Manaea (0-0, 6.00) will go up against the Rangers’ LHP Martin Perez (0-1, 4.50).
Manaea worked 6.0-innings on Tuesday night versus the Angels giving up four runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out four. Manaea wound up with a no-decision in that game that A’s eventually lost.