Kendall Graveman threw six innings of shutout ball, followed by three scoreless bullpen innings. Meanwhile, the A's snapped an 0-for-20 hitless streak with runners in scoring position and put up a crooked number in time for Graveman to earn the win. Also, the Athletics committed no errors. It was the A's league-leading sixth shutout of the year.
Kendall Graveman beats the Rays into the ground
Today's Athletics starter, Kendall Graveman, came back with a mission to help these Athletics despite his poor start:
Graveman said last night he was focused on figuring out what he could do to help the team, wanted to help turn things around.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) May 23, 2015
Graveman just looked better. He knew where his breaking pitches were going, and he knew that his pitches were going to be hit into the ground. He ultimately got nine ground ball outs, an infield pop out, six strikeouts, and just two fly balls to the outfield to complete his six innings of work.
Graveman was so smooth through the first four innings, allowing just a ground ball single to David DeJesus over 49 pitches. His first bit of trouble came in the fifth, when he allowed a leadoff double to Logan Forsythe and hit De Jesus to put two runners on with nobody out.
And then Graveman just shut them down. He struck out Asdrubal Cabrera, got Nick Franklin to fly out to left, and struck out Rene Rivera to escape the fifth without a run scoring. He was holding back on us, it seems:
Kendall Graveman kept his new change under wraps until the 5th when with 2 on and none out, he used it for two big outs. #Athletics— John Hickey (@JHickey3) May 23, 2015
In the sixth, Graveman ran into a little more trouble, walking Steven Souza and giving up a seeing eye single to Evan Longoria that was just under the glove of shortstop Marcus Semien. A good shortstop gets it, and Ron Washington is working on making Semien one. Graveman picked up his second out on a slow developing 4-6 putout where Semien declined to make the relay. To end the sixth, he struck out Logan Forsythe looking.
After walking the leadoff batter in the seventh, Graveman's day was done. It was his first time finishing the sixth inning with the big league club.
Threatening and not scoring
Entering the game, the A's were riding an 0-for-14 hitless streak with runners in scoring position. For the first 5⅔ innings, that was showing no signs of stopping:
- 1st: With Billy Burns on second base, Josh Reddick grounds sharply to third and Billy Butler flies sharply to right (0-for-16).
- 2nd: With Eric Sogard on third base, Sam Fuld grounds out to the pitcher (0-for-17).
- 4th: With Billy Butler on second base, Eric Sogard pops out to second and Mark Canha lines out to right (0-for-19).
- 5th: With Josh Reddick at third base, Josh Phegley is struck out by Nate Karns (0-for-20).
Rays starter Nate Karns had been getting into a lot of deep count against the Athletics, however, and was at that point with 100 pitches* on him by left-hander Xavier Cedeno and Eric Sogard at the plate.
*The box score will say 99, but home plate umpire Rob Drake appeared to lose count of the balls and strikes during Max Muncy's plate appearance in the fifth that included a passed ball, and so Muncy walked on five balls. Nobody objected, however, so play continued after what should have been ball four.
Rally on two, rally on two, rally on two like we always do
Eric Sogard hit a single. Celebrations ensued.
WE INTERRUPT THIS TWITTER WITH AN IMPORTANT BULLETIN pic.twitter.com/e5vuykqzi4— Athletics Nation (@athleticsnation) May 23, 2015
Josh Reddick scored from third to make the score 1-0, and Max Muncy advanced to second base. Mark Canha drew a walk to load the bases, still with two outs, and Sam Fuld came to the plate.
That's Sam Fuld, hitting a single up the middle to score Muncy and Sogard. That's Kevin Kiermaier, without an error this year, kicking the ball around in center field to let Mark Canha go to third. That's Rene Rivera, who had Mark Canha dead to rights by 10 feet--
--dropping Kevin Kiermaier's strike to let him score. 4-0 Athletics.
Enny Romero took over on the mound in the seventh, with Rays manager Kevin Cash trying to get three innings out of him come hell or high water after heavy bullpen usage in recent days. In the eighth, with two out, Romero walked Eric Sogard, Mark Canha, Sam Fuld, and Billy Burns to make the score 5-0.
Evan Scribner and Tyler Clippard just keep it together
The box score will say Evan Scribner and Tyler Clippard gave up no runs in three innings of work. For Evan Scribner, his first inning was an easy nine pitches, striking out Asdrubal Cabrera, catching David DeJesus stealing, and snaring Nick Franklin's comebacker.
The eighth inning, Scribner's second, was more of an adventure with a lot of loud contact. Rene Rivera flew out to very deep center and Kevin Kiermeier singled on a ground ball up the middle. Steven Souza Jr. hit a hard liner to left tracked down in yet another spectacular catch by Sam Fuld:
Scribner wrapped up the eighth with an infield pop out to Eric Sogard.
Tyler Clippard came in on four days rest to pitch the ninth with a five run lead. He recorded the first two outs easily, but then David DeJesus and Asdrubal Carbera both singled, and Clippard walked Franklin. Despite the 5-0 lead with two outs, you just had to wonder, with the way things had been going, whether things would spiral out of control. Clippard decided "nope," striking out Joey Butler swinging to end the game.
The A's will try to win consecutive games for the second time this year, and again with Sonny Gray on the hill. Start time is 10:10 AM on Comcast Sportsnet California. But this afternoon from St. Petersburg Florida it's the A's 5, the Rays 0.