SAN FRANCISCO — It wasn’t exactly the return Kendall Graveman had in mind.
The right-hander’s first major league start since mid-May lasted just two innings Thursday, the Giants knocking him around for seven runs in an 11-2 rout that earned San Francisco a split of the four-game Bay Bridge Series.
Perhaps the shores of McCovey Cove just don’t agree with Graveman. Thursday’s outing marked the second-shortest start of his career. The only shorter one? That also came at AT&T Park, where he lasted just 1 1/3 innings in a July 2015 start.
After missing 2 1/2 months with a strained throwing shoulder, Graveman’s fastball clocked as high as 96 miles per hour on the stadium radar gun. But the Giants were squaring up everything. Four consecutive hits in the first keyed a four-run rally, then they added three more in the second wit help from Brandon Belt’s two-run homer.
Graveman (2-3) gave up seven runs on eight hits total, and his pitch count was already at 40 when manager Bob Melvin lifted him for a pinch hitter in the third inning.
Before you attempt to wipe this one from your memory, here’s five takeaways from Thursday:
THE VETERAN STARTERS STRUGGLED THIS SERIES: It was rookies Paul Blackburn and Daniel Gossett who earned Oakland’s two victories on the mound. Meanwhile, Graveman and Sean Manaea — the rotation’s most experienced starters after the Sonny Gray trade — combined for just five innings and gave up 13 runs (9 earned) in their two starts total.
SMITH’S RETURN TO THE BULLPEN: For the second time in three nights, the A’s needed a reliever to soak up a big workload. On this night it was Chris Smith, whose previous four outings came in a starting role. Smith gave up four runs over four innings, and in the context of this game, he served an important role in keeping Melvin from having to burn through any more relievers. But he did allow a three-run homer to Giants pitcher Ty Blach, one batter after intentionally walking Joe Panik to get to the pitcher’s spot.
It was that kind of night for the A’s.
RAJAI’S BIG MOMENT: One-time Giant Rajai Davis, batting leadoff for the second night in a row as the Giants started another lefty, homered to left in the eighth inning to provide A’s fans their biggest moment to cheer.
KD RETURNED TO THE LINEUP: After sitting Wednesday with a sore hamstring, Khris Davis returned to left field and batted cleanup. The trio of Ryon Healy, Chad Pinder and Matt Chapman, which enjoyed a big game Wednesday, all moved down a notch to hit 5-6-7 and went just 3-for-12 with an RBI.
GOSSETT GOES DOWN: Despite a strong seven-inning effort Wednesday, rookie Daniel Gossett was the choice to be sent down to clear the needed 25-man roster spot for Graveman. Melvin said it was tough news to break. But with the A’s finally getting a day off Monday, they don’t need a fifth starter for a while, and Melvin said the A’s wanted to keep their other four starters on turn and didn’t want Gossett to miss a turn or pitch out of the bullpen. Expect him to be up again fairly soon.