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Game Thread #45: Oakland Athletics at Tampa Bay Rays

The ice-cold Athletics send young sinkerballer Kendall Graveman to the mound in his major league return against Nate Karns and the surging Rays.

Kendall Graveman looks to help the A's out of their own grave.
Kendall Graveman looks to help the A's out of their own grave.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The sentence "Team X could really use a win today" is a pretty dumb one. Most teams could "really use a win" every day, and most teams are trying to win every day. That being said, now would be as good of a time as any for the slumping Athletics to come out on top.

Rookie Kendall Graveman takes the hill in his return to big-league action this afternoon. He was demoted to AAA Nashville after going 1-2 with an 8.27 ERA over four starts in the majors. In AAA, Graveman dominated, posting a 2-1 record with a 1.85 ERA over four starts. The A's are hoping that his nerves from the beginning of the season are gone and he can contribute to an ailing rotation in need of quality arms.

Graveman will face off against the Tampa Bay Rays, who have won seven of their past ten games and sit atop the AL East, despite a boatload of injuries to their young, talented pitching staff. Second baseman Logan Forsythe and third baseman Evan Longoria have led the charge on offense, while Brad Boxberger, Steve Geltz, and Kevin Jepsen have locked things down in the late innings, effectively shortening the game.

Nate Karns takes the mound for these red-hot Rays. Originally drafted by the Washington Nationals, Karns was sent to Tampa Bay in February 2014. His control issues have prevented Karns from breaking out at the major league level, but his 3.45 career minor league ERA and 10.3 career minor league K/9 show the potential is there. Karns relies heavily on his low-90's fastball and low-80's curveball, occasionally flashing his mid-80's changeup.

Two young arms with a lot to prove take the mound for these low-budget teams today. The A's are looking to get hot, and the Rays are looking to stay hot. Game time is 1:10 PST. Let's go, Oakland!

Today's Lineups

Billy Burns - CF Kevin Kiermaier - CF
Marcus Semien - SS Steven Souza - RF
Josh Reddick - RF Evan Longoria - DH
Billy Butler - DH James Loney - 1B
Max Muncy - 3B Logan Forsythe - 3B
Josh Phegley - C David DeJesus - LF
Eric Sogard - 2B Asdrubal Cabrera - SS
Mark Canha - 1B Nick Franklin - 2B
Sam Fuld - LF Rene Rivera - C
Kendall Graveman - RHP Nate Karns - RHP