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Game #112: Graveman cruises, Butler bruises, A's win 3-2

Thanks to Kendall Graveman's gem, the A's beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 to take the series' opener.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Max Muncy hit second and the A's still won. Gotta love baseball.

Kendall Graveman was incredible today, Billy Butler looked like the professional that won the icy hearts of Kansas City fans earlier this decade, and the A's won 3-2 over the pretty dang good Baltimore Orioles.

Orioles put up a run against A's "defense"

In the third, the A's un-athleticism led to a technically earned, but totally Little Leagued run. JJ Hardy led off with a groundball under the glove of a diving Yonder Alonso for a single. Adam Jones blooped a single to right, moving Hardy to second. Both hits were BABIP luck, annoying but expected as that's a peril of a contact oriented pitcher like Graveman.

Things did get far more annoying immediately following. Hyun Soo Kim hit a flyball to right center, in between "rightfielder" Danny Valencia and "centerfielder" Coco Crisp. It's a ball that's caught 100% of the time there's a single competent outfielder in right or center, it's probably caught if there's an inkling of chemistry between the two fielders. There wasn't, and the ball fell loading the bases.

Up strode Manny Machado. I once learned if you don't have anything nice to say about someone, you don't say anything at all. Hence, that's all I have to write about Manny Machado.

I hate Manny Machado.

Fortunately, he didn't do much damage. Graveman induced a popup that would end up on the concourse in most stadiums, but in Oakland, made for a nice running catch by Yonder Alonso. His momentum took him from home giving the O's an unorthodox sacrifice fly to first and a 1-0 lead. That'd be all they'd muster against Graveman all night long.

TL;DR: Oakland did Oakland things in the field and Danny Valencia and Coco Crisp should buy Kendall Graveman a new car

I believe in Stephen Vogt

I believe Stephen Vogt launched a fastball to the moon. That tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth.

Billy Butler, Oakland hero

In the sixth, the A's took the lead. Stephen Vogt walked, Yonder Alonso singled, and with two outs, Billy Butler came up with a chance to play the role of early game hero.

Against a good pitcher (Kevin Gausman) who probably isn't as good as the A's would have you believe, Butler lined a single to right, his second hit of the night, giving the A's the lead.

The dude is playing good baseball right now, hitting in almost every opportunity he's got and turning what was an easy decision two months ago into a bit more of a question. The power is still absent, but you can see the guy who was a downright stud for the better part of six years still in there, kicking and screaming to be let out.

I had all these pretty unfunny jokes pre-written at Butler's expense and he nullified every single one of them. I'm cool with him ruining my jokes if he keeps looking like a big league hitter.

Kendall Graveman induced 14 groundouts

That's what we not really in the baseball blogging biz call "really good".

Not much to add here. The Orioles have a really good lineup and Graveman had no issues at all, save some rough defense in his seven innings of work. Since the unsightly start and the repertoire change, he's been at least a number three. His over-performance is a welcome sight to a rotation that's crumbled at its not particularly strong seams.

Ryan Dull gave up a dinger

It's Ok Ryan, we forgive you. 3-2 A's in the eighth.

Madson in for the ninth

Bob Melvin, apparently underwhelmed by the kegel strength of the fan-base sent noted home run giver upper Ryan Madson to face noted home run hitters like Mark Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez. Instead of sending us to extras sad, Madson did what closers are supposed to do, giving us a 1-2-3 ninth to earn the save.

Other notes:

-It was a Mark Mulder night in the booth. He was decent, probably a strong drink or two away from being solid, and his and Ray's chemistry is improving game by game. Neat.

-Yonder Alonso had some hard outs tonight but at any rate, his bat hasn't been good enough or what we hoped. His glove though? Goodness gracious, that glove. He made play after play tonight, ranging far to his left and right to be the one dude on the field routinely helping Kendall Graveman out.

-Ryon Healy isn't a great defender, but he made one of the defensive plays of the year for the A's. A hard Graveman sinker shattered Jonathan Schoop's bat, which went flying the exact same way as the ball. Healy dexterously dodged the bat, barehanded the ball, and threw a strike to first to get the speedy Schoop.  A beautiful play.

And what is it with Oriole's bats and A's third-basemen? Woof.

-A nice offensive day for Coco Crisp who continues to show he's got value in that bat. If only he could cobble together some 2012 defense.

A's win!

Wins are fun no matter the loss column total. Great to see Graveman be great, Butler be good, and the team do enough to beat a playoff team.