The last time the Athletics faced Nathan Karns was on April 9 in Seattle, when they tagged him for four runs on seven hits over five innings -- en route to a 6-1 victory in the Emerald City; before Oakland eventually concluded a three-game sweep of their Pacific North West counterparts, for the first time since August 7-9, 2012.
Tonight, Kendall Graveman takes the mound for the green and gold; and he hopes to rebound after a disappointing start against the Detroit Tigers -- where he surrendering six runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 frames. The biggest concern for Graveman was that he wasn't hitting his spots, and when he did, the Tigers' offense subsequently managed to find holes on the infield that Oakland's defenders could not come up with. The right-hander is very much aware of the problem, and is hopefull that he can make the necessary adjustments moving forward.
"We were trying to get a ground ball somewhere to get a double play, and that's my game," Graveman said. " A ground ball through the hole, I've got to find a way with runners on first and second to make a pitch. Then stay focused. Martinez hit a good change up away right after [Cabrera's homer]. I didn't feel like I was scuffling too bad. I thought I made some pretty good pitches. They did a good job hitting the ball, even some balls off the plate."
Whether the 25-year-old from Alexander City, Alabama is nothing more than a number four or number five starter in the major leagues, he has clearly showcased his ability to thrive at this level when given the opportunity. Lets look back at his start against the New York Yankees on April 20 -- when he struck out a career-high eight batters in 6 2/3 innings.
As you can see, Graveman's best chance for success takes place when he's effectively painting the low-and-inside corners of the plate -- regardless of which batter's box the opposition takes stride in. When he needs to, the right-hander has no problem nailing the outside corner against south paws -- thus preventing them from pulling the ball to that short porch in right-field.
Thanks to the heavy-night marine layer, Graveman just might be able to get away with a high-fastball now and then; especially with the Mariners struggling to put runs on the scoreboard, as demonstrated by their meager .227 team batting average. However, in their last 16 games -- the Mariners are 11-5, and have drastically climbed ESPN's Power Ranking list, primarily due to several outstanding performances from Karns, Felix Hernandez, and Hisashi Iwakuma, whom the Athletics will take on in this series.
Baseball is an unpredictable game; but knowing the Athletics and Mariners, chances are we'll see a collection of one-run games with an insurmountable amount of strikeouts, along with an overly-taxed bullpen.
Without further ado, here are tonight's starting lineups:
|SEATTLE MARINERS||OAKLAND A'S|
|Norichika Aoki - LF||Billy Burns - CF|
|Seth Smith - RF||Coco Crisp - LF|
|Robinson Cano - 2B||Josh Reddick - RF|
|Nelson Cruz - DH||Khris Davis - DH|
|Adam Lind - 1B||Stephen Vogt - C|
|Kyle Seager - 3B||Chris Coghlan - 2B|
|Chris Iannetta - C||Mark Canha - 3B|
|Ketel Marte - SS||Yonder Alonso - 1B|
|Leonys Martin - CF||Marcus Semien - SS|
|Nate Karns - RHP||Kendall Graveman - RHP|
Hot off the press:
After dropping seven of their first eight home games, the Athletics have rebounded nicely by winning two of their past home series at the Coliseum. The green and gold have shown the ability to bounce-back in the late-innings, but the Mariners are on a surge as well -- winning eight of their last 10 games, prior to Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Royals. Marcus Semien told Stiglich that the biggest factor in this series will be their ability to play solid defense and come through in the clutch -- as demonstrated in their last meeting, almost a month ago.
The A's are one of 20 organizations that will be in attendance for Tim Lincecum's showcase in Arizona on Friday. If you recall, the right-hander was expected to throw a bullpen session for scouts' prior to the 2016 regular season, although the cause for concern was never addressed. Coming off of hip surgery, Lincecum would like to obtain a starting rotation spot. However, with his chronic-injury history -- the best case scenario for the two-time Cy Young Award winner might be out of the bullpen in the late innings.
LAST MINUTE CHANGE:
Crisp will DH tonight, Davis to play left field, A's announce. No change to lineup order.— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) May 3, 2016
LETS PLAY BALL!