clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Game #127: I Want to Be Forever Young - A’s Win 5-1

Oakland held the powerhouse Indians offense to just 3 runs all series. With another great outing by Graveman and timely hitting by the youngsters, the A’s take the final game of the series by a score of 5-1.

Cleveland Indians v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Before hopping into today's game recap, I wanted to congratulate Marcus Semien and his wife Tarah on the birth of their son, Isaiah, on Monday. Congratulations, Marcus! Knowing him, this won't keep him out of the lineup for long, but I wish him and his newly embiggened family the best.

Anyway, onto today's game. Much has been written on this website about the Nashville Sounds being a gestalt - a group of players that is more than the sum of its parts. Despite Oakland having a decent-not-great farm system, the players that are currently in AAA Nashville (and increasingly leaking up to the big leagues) have consistently formed some of the best teams at whatever level they have played at. With Oakland's comically injured and ineffective veterans this season, we're getting our first look at some of our young guys, and boy does the future look promising.

The Youth is on Fire

All of Oakland's offense came in the 2nd inning. Davis hit a stand up triple to open the inning, showcasing more of his ludicrous opposite field power with a shot off the out-of-town scoreboard. Alonso walked and then Healy, the first of our position player noobs, extended his hitting streak to 11 games by slashing a curveball to left field, bringing Davis home and putting the A's up 1-0. Healy has shown a remarkable ability to hit curveballs in his short time with the big league club. An Eibner dribbler advanced the runners to second and third in exchange for an out, and then lineup stalwart Max Muncy blooped a single to bring another run home, 2-0 Oakland. Chad Pinder, less than a week into his big league career, worked an excellent at-bat and was *this* close to sneaking a single into right field - Lonnie Chisenhall made a great catch, but it was hit just far enough to bring Healy home and extend Oakland's lead to 3-0. Smolinski, batting in the leadoff spot against a righty to hopefully just see what we have with him, singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch (yet more of the aggressive, heads-up baserunning we've consistently seen from him), and then the Coliseum sun came through in the clutch. Valencia hit a high pop-up on the infield, but Carlos Santana lost the catchable ball in the sun and overran it. It dropped fair, allowing Muncy and Smolinski to score, 5-0 Oakland. It ultimately took Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer 42 pitches to get through the inning (though thankfully for him, Valencia's "infield single" was finally overturned to an error just before the game ended, meaning Bauer was only on the hook for the first 3 runs).

The A's would not get any more runs across the plate, but that didn't matter thanks to Graveman's fantastic pitching which I'll get to in a moment. The game was won in that 2nd inning thanks in large part to patient at-bats ending in solid contact by Oakland's youngest players, plus a little help from the sun. The young guys continued to put up solid at-bats all day, with Healy and Eibner making more solid contact in the 3rd, another Smolinski single in the 4th (he's sporting a 7-game hitting streak of his own!), and a Chad Pinder single in the 6th.

These young players have acted as more than the sum of their parts at every level of baseball they have progressed through so far, and based on what we've seen of them in the big leagues, that doesn't look to be slowing down. Two of our young players are sporting impressive hitting streaks and pretty much all of them are getting hits when it counts, picking each other up and propelling the big league squad towards something greater.

<3 Gravedigger

Seriously, how good is Kendall Graveman? Yet again, he came out today throwing almost all sinkers, and yet again he shut down one of the best offenses in baseball. The fact that Graveman not only continues to limit scoring, but that he has consistently done so against some of the best hitting teams in the majors, points toward an incredibly bright future as a #4 or maybe better starter in Oakland's rotation. While he is a veteran compared to several of our position players, I'm including him in the youth movement because we still get to watch him pitch here for several more years and it's looking increasingly promising.

Like his last start, Graveman gave up more fly balls than we're used to seeing with him, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. He gave up scattered hits throughout the game but didn't really get into any trouble other than in one or two places. In the 1st, he gave up a double to Jose Ramirez and then hit Mike Napoli with a pitch to put a couple of runners on, but got out of the jam with a fly out.

After that, he mostly cruised through the Indians lineup. I don't remember him allowing multiple baserunners in the same inning until he exited the game. With 2 outs in the 7th, Roberto Perez squeaked an opposite field home run out to right field - in a way that was eerily reminiscent of the blown home run call of A's/Indians fame back in 2013, it just barely cleared the wall before bouncing back onto the field. Graveman then gave up a single and a walk before Bob Melvin pulled him in favor of Mark Rzepczynski, who came in and got the final out of the inning with no further damage. 6⅔ innings with one run allowed against the 2nd best offense in the AL? Yes please.

Graveman has shown tremendous control of his sinker, which he's been throwing faster and more often than ever recently. He has been the one consistent spot in a pitching rotation defined by mediocrity and injury, and he showed no signs of slowing down today. Both pitchers were getting badly squeezed by the home plate umpire, so it's not inconceivable that with a more reasonable strike zone he could have gone into the 8th inning - one of his two walks definitely should have been a strikeout. Either way, Graveman has proved immensely durable and immensely adaptable and has been a highlight of the season.

Shoutout to Alonso

Yonder Alonso made several excellent defensive plays at first base today. He speared a scorching line drive to save Ryan Dull, made a couple of nice grabs to bail out Graveman, and turned a perfect 3-6-3 double play in the 9th to help us un-gird our loins after closer Ryan Madson gave up a leadoff single.

This was a great series for Oakland. They got some timely hits in the second two games and held the 2nd best offense in the AL to a mere 3 runs over the 3-game series. They have a well-deserved off day tomorrow and then take on the St. Louis Cardinals in Missouri on Friday.