The Athletics lost 4-0 to the San Francisco Giants Friday evening in a brisk two hour, 32 minute affair. Kendall Graveman took the loss despite not giving up an earned run, and the pitchers for the most part dominated the evening's proceedings. The A's managed just four hits and two walks, with Ike Davis's double down the right field line the only offensive highlight of note.
Graveman vs. Cain
The starters each put up four innings for their clubs. Giants starter Matt Cain ran into pitch count trouble in the early going, though he ultimately struck out three of the A's on two- or three-ball counts. The A's only got a base runner to second base in the second and third innings. Ike Davis doubled to lead off the second but was stranded there. In the third, Sam Fuld got aboard on a base hit and advanced on Billy Butler's two out walk.
Who knows how the night might have gone for A's starter Kendall Graveman had his infield defense not let him down? The ground ball specialist depends on his infielders, but they great let him down right off the bat. Norichika Aoki grounded a chopper to a charging Marcus Semien, who failed to up with what should have been a not too difficult short hop. After Joe Panik flew out, Angel Pagan hit a simple grounder to Eric Sogard, who also flubbed what should have been at least one out.
Kendall Graveman then threw his first mistake pitch of the night, a sinker that just did not sink very much, and unfortunately, he threw it to Buster Posey for a three-run home run to dead center:
Graveman settled in after that, striking out two batters and walking one more to complete a 30-pitch first inning. He got through the next three in 35 more, giving up just one more hit and striking out four more to give him two hits allowed and six strikeouts for his four innings. Three Giants struck out looking, and Graveman was painting Picassos on the black with each of them. His spring ERA falls to 0.36, as the runs he allowed were unearned.
What struck me as most impressive was that Graveman worked through a lot of adversity and did not let the game get away from him. In the third inning, for instance, he began by throwing seven consecutive balls. Pitch eight was a strike to Buster Posey, and pitch nine was a grounder to Tyler Ladendorf at third base, who flubbed it himself, but Marcus Semien was able to grab the rebound and throw out Posey in time. He only threw 75 pitches, and it will be intriguing to see how much of a third time through the order penalty he faces in the regular season.
Bullpens zip along
Oakland got just one additional base runner in the game once Cain exited after four innings, Eric Sogard's single off Jeremy Affeldt. Affeldt, Juan Gutierrez, Jean Machi, Hunter Strickland, and Sergio Romo combined to retire the final 13 Athletics.
San Francisco did a little bit better against Oakland's bullpen, scoring one run off of Eric O'Flaherty in the sixth inning off of three hits, though the lefty did strike out Casey McGehee and Brandon Crawford. Dan Otero faced the minimum by inducing a 5-4-3 double play in the fifth, as he does. Tyler Clippard struck out Brandon Belt with a fastball that Mike Krukow said looked faster than the 90 mile per hour four-seamer it was.
R.J. Alvarez pitched the eighth, and I want to concentrate on one of his pitches that has not gotten a lot of attention that Athletics Nation member "King Richard" brought up, his slider. Yes, we saw plenty of Alvarez's 95 mile per hour fastball tonight, but his slider could be a pretty devastating pitch too.
Oakland's infield actually began to play a much crisper defense once Kendall Graveman left the game. The A's turned a routine 5-4-3 double play in the fifth, and Joey Wendle made two nifty plays you might not notice in the box score. With runners at second and third in the sixth, Wendle tracked down a slow roller up the middle and smartly threw to third to try to catch Justin Maxwell off guard rounding third:
Later in the inning, Wendle made another play well to his right, showing off his excellent range, and forcing out Joaquin Arias at second base.
Nobody got hurt. Here's my scorecard from tonight's game:
The A's head to the Coliseum for a 1:05 PM game that concludes this Bay Bridge series and the exhibition season. Drew Pomeranz will face Tim Hudson. Barry Zito is scheduled to pitch an inning on short rest after Pomeranz.
But tonight's final was 4-0 Giants from AT&T Park.