ARLINGTON, Texas – Kendall Graveman flirted with a no-hitter Saturday, and given the way in which he dissected the Texas Rangers’ lineup, figure it won’t be the last time.
With the wind whipping wildly for most of the night at Globe Life Park, the A’s right-hander kept the Rangers grounded, literally. He recorded 12 ground-ball outs and glided through seven innings in Oakland’s **-*** victory that evened this three-game series at one apiece.
The Rangers had a zero in the hit column and Graveman was at just 73 pitches as he took the mound for the seventh. He struck out Shin-Soo Choo and Nomar Mazara before cleanup man Mike Napoli jumped on a first-pitch fastball and homered over the wall in left-center. Rougned Odor singled and Jonathan Lucroy lined out sharply to short to end the inning, and manager Bob Melvin went to his bullpen to stash away the A’s first road victory of 2017.
Graveman allowed two hits with one walk and five strikeouts over 85 pitches, winning for the second time in as many starts this season.
Rangers starter Yu Darvish (0-1) was game for a pitchers’ duel much of the night. He held the A’s off the board until the sixth, but Oakland scored a run that inning and another in the seventh, then robbed the night of its suspense with three more in the eighth for a 5-1 lead.
Starting pitching report
Graveman combined mid-90’s velocity with good movement and location, and that makes the righty a tough pitcher to beat. He faced just one batter over the minimum through the first six innings, with his only base runners up to that point coming on Odor’s walk and a throwing error from Graveman on Lucroy’s comebacker right after that. But Graveman promptly made amends by starting a 1-6-3 comebacker double play off the bat of Joey Gallo.
Santiago Casilla handled the eighth and Ryan Madson, who hadn’t pitched since Tuesday, finished it off in the ninth.
At the plate
As Graveman was silencing the Rangers, the A’s weren’t solving Darvish with ease either. It was a scoreless game until the sixth. Matt Joyce opened the inning with a walk and moved around to third on Ryon Healy’s double down the left-field line. After a Khris Davis grounder to first, Stephen Vogt managed to get Joyce home with a dribbler to second. The A’s got some help in making it 2-0 in the seventh when Yonder Alonso singled and moved around to third on Napoli’s throwing error that sailed into left field. Rajai Davis’ sacrifice fly brought Alonso home.
Leading 2-1 in the eighth, they added three more runs with help from the Rangers’ outfielders. Carlos Gomez never seemed to have a good read on Khris Davis’ drive to the center field wall that went for a double. Then Jed Lowrie was credited for a double on a fly ball that Mazara misjudged in odd fashion in right, allowing Davis to score. Alonso then added some cushion with a two-run homer to straightaway center off Dario Alvarez — just his seventh career homer against a lefty — putting the A’s up 5-1.
In the field
Rajai Davis, who was 2-for-21 entering the game, had a nice night with two doubles and a sacrifice fly. He added an outstanding catch in the eighth, leaping to snare Ryan Rua’s deep drive to center.
A crowd of 44,410 was on hand.
This series wraps up with a 12:05 p.m. game Sunday, as Sean Manaea (0-0, 6.00) matches up against lefty Martin Perez (0-1, 4.50).