"One step forward, two steps back," is what Billy Beane calls the process of throwing rookies into the mix of a major league season. The month of August proved this theory correct for the A's, as they will finish the month tonight with another losing record. However, there has been some great moments of the last 30 days:
-Sweeping the Rangers at home
-Reaching double digit HR marks for Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and Chad Pinder,
-Resurgence of Jharel Cotton
-Continued growth of Paul Blackburn and "Goose" Gossett
Tonight's A's starter, Kendall Graveman has epitmized the "one step forward, two steps back" mantra of Beane, as he started the 2017 campaign throwing 96 mph sinkers and dominating the competition in April (2-1 2.25 ERA), then struggled in May (0-1, 5.48 ERA) and then disappeared to the DL until August where he has come back with mixed results (2-2, 4.94 ERA in 5 starts). The encouraging news is that in the last 3 of his August starts, he has showed flashes of what could make him a top of the rotation starter for years to come (20 innings, 5 earned runs against the big bats of Houston, Baltimore and Texas). Along this journey, it appears Graveman is getting more comfortable throwing his sinker at the 92-93 mph range rather than overthrowing 95 mph+. I have high hopes that against a weak Angels offense and facing a banged up Mike Trout (neck stiffness), Graveman will turn in another quality start tonight.
Remember Graveman's incredible play against the Angels from earlier in 2017?
A's Will Face a Pitcher on a Role Tonight: The A's offense will be facing Angels Right-hander, Parker Bridwell. Bridwell has come out of no where this season for the Halos, after being traded from the Orioles for cash in April. The former 9th round selection of the O's has been one of the reasons the Angels are still in the wildcard hunt, as he has posted a 7-2 record with a 2.89 ERA in 13 starts.
Here are tonight's starting line-ups (Game Time is 7:07pm; Weather: 89 F, 40% humidity)
|OAKLAND A'S||LOS ANGELES ANGELS|
|Boog Powell - CF||Ben Revere - LF|
|Marcus Semien - SS||Mike Trout - CF|
|Jed Lowrie - 2B||Albert Pujols - DH|
|Khris Davis - LF||Kole Calhoun - RF|
|Matt Joyce - RF||C.J. Cron - 1B|
|Ryon Healy - DH||Luis Valbuena - 3B|
|Matt Olson - 1B||Cliff Pennington - SS|
|Matt Chapman - 3B||Martin Maldonado - C|
|Bruce Maxwell - C||Kaleb Cowart - 2B|
|Kendall Graveman - RHP||Parker Bridwell - RHP|
Roster Grows After Tonight: Tonight's game marks the last game of August for the A's...They will continue their six game road trip after tonight up in Seattle against the M's...Joining them there will be September callups, Josh Phegley, Franklin Barreto, Renato Nuñez and Jake Smolinski among others. It will be interesting to see how BoMel and the front office deals out playing time with the expanded roster. It wouldn't be surprising to see Jed Lowrie, Matt Joyce and Marcus Siemien see reduced at-bats in the next few weeks as Barretto, Nunez and company get some looks.
My Bill King Moment at Anaheim Stadium: In honor of Bill King's Hall of Fame induction this season, I have a cool story (well at least it is cool to me) to share about my small connection to him...I moved to Los Angeles from NorCal to attend college in the 90's and as part of a college internship, I worked for the LA Dodgers (I know, I know it was as painful as it sounds). Through my work with the Dodgers, I became connected to staff on the Angels. Bill King in those days liked to have a person in the radio booth to track out of town scores. The A's radio affliate at the time was too cheap to send someone on the road with the broadcast team to do this task, so in each city, the engineer of the broadcast would hire a local college student or intern of the home team to do this job for Bill. A friend of mine from the Angels, knew of my love for my hometown A's and hired me to track scores in the booth when the A's were in Anaheim. So for a few seasons, I had the honor to sit behind Bill and Ken Korach when they were in Anaheim and to hear their on-air play by play as well as their in between innnings banter. (I know, I know, it was as awesome as it sounds)...In one particular summer series in Anaheim, I noticed that Bill had to stand up from his chair when calling certain plays, as the seat in the booth was too short for him to see over the ledge of the radio booth (He was a fairly short guy). I was in the process of moving apartments that weekend and I remembered that I had a bar stool in the back of my car as part of the move...So in between innings, I ran out to my car in the Anaheim Stadium parking lot, grabbed the wooden stool and brought it up to the radio booth to see if Bill wanted to use it...He graciously took me up on my offer and for the rest of the weekend he called the broadcast sitting in my $10 Target Store barstool. At the end of the series, I had him autograph the stool and I instantly determined that for the rest of my life, I would keep that stool as a memory of how Bill had impacted my childhood and beyond as the voice of the A's....That was over 20 years ago...And today, after several moves, having a very understanding wife, and four children later, the infamous Bill King barstool follows me wherever we go!
If you haven't had the chance to read Ken Korach's excellent book on the life of Bill King, you owe to yourself to get it right away....Korach is as brillant a writer as he is an announcer and Bill King's story is fancinating.
Enjoy tonight's game and in honor of Bill King, may the A's, "tell it goodbye" against the Angels this evening...