Strong favorite to start opener, Graveman makes quick work of Padres in win

Strong favorite to start opener, Graveman makes quick work of Padres in win

MESA, Ariz. — As good as Kendall Graveman was on the mound Saturday, the best evidence of how much he’s developed came in his postgame comments.

The A’s right-hander talked matter-of-factly about his sterling outing in a 2-1 victory against the San Diego Padres. Graveman retired 17 of 19 batters he faced over six innings, and it wasn’t until the sixth that he was forced to throw a pitch from the stretch.

If ever there was a sign that he deserves his first Opening Night start, it came Saturday as he struck out six and allowed just two hits with no walks. The only blemish was a solo homer in the third from former A’s farmhand Dusty Coleman.

“Solo home runs don’t get you beat a lot of times in this game,” Graveman said. “What gets you beat is you walk a guy, a guy gets a hit, and then the homer comes. If we can limit damage there and make him hit the first pitch, a lot of times the odds are in my favor.”

Listen to him dissect an outing, and it’s apparent the 26-year-old Graveman now expects himself to be as efficient as he was Saturday. In an Oakland rotation that will be young and quite short on major league experience, especially while Sonny Gray is sidelined, Graveman has established himself as the veteran anchor of the staff.

And though manager Bob Melvin is holding out on naming his Opening Night starter, it’s obvious who will receive the honor.

“In spring games, I’ll alert him who the (dangerous) base runners are and he already knows,” Melvin said. “He’s doing some scouting before he goes out there. Each and every year he’s been here, he’s gotten more serious about his preparation, and obviously his stuff’s really good.”

The other sign of Graveman being dialed in — Saturday’s time of game clocked in at a lightning-quick 2 hours, 15 minutes. The right-hander contributed greatly to that, inducing early contact and working quickly, which the defenders behind him love.

“I think it really is the way I want to pitch,” he said. “‘Hey, let’s get the ball, let’s go.’”


Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

Twitter @KatieUtehs

Young A’s fan writes letter to team after fires take home, beloved memorabilia

Young Athletics fan Loren Jade Smith is among the thousands of people affected by the Northern California wildfires. Along with his family's home, the fire storm took his most valued possession -- his A's memorabilia collection. 

In his disappointment, Smith wrote a letter to the A's that has since gone viral. 

After the letter was shared throughout the Twitterverse, A's President Dave Kaval said the team would reach out to Jade and his family to replace his memorabilia. 

And since Kaval's announcement, the A's community of fans has responded with offers to send the young fan some memorabilia. The A's have even set up an address where fans can send Smith their gifts. 

Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?


Who can we blame for epidemic of teams losing three straight elimination games?

Fox’ Matt Vasgersian, who does his job well,  declared the New York Yankees’ American League Division Series win over Cleveland to be amazing.

It is not. Not any more.

In fact, the Yankees winning three elimination games in succession is a feat that has happened seven times in the past three years. And we can only conclude from that that they’re not making teams that can avoid the bad beat the way they used to.

The 2017 Indians joined the 2016 Indians, Warriors and Thunder, the 2015 Clippers, Capitals and Texas Rangers, the 2014 Penguins and Sharks, the 2013 Red Wings, the 2012 Reds and Cardinals, the 2011 Penguins, the 2010 Bruins and Capitals as proud laryngectomy victims – teams that needed to win only one of three (or in the Sharks’ case, four) games to advance in the playoffs (or in the Warriors’ case, win).

That’s 15 times this “amazing” thing has happened, which means that by any estimate, teams that needed to win three consecutive games to escape the icy hand of Uncle Death are now pretty much the norm in this decade.

And why, you ask? I blame Twitter. I blame global warming. I blame video games. I blame smartphones. I blame phones. I blame the new president. I blame the old president. I blame Satan. I blame participation trophies and orange slices and juice boxes. I blame the players and I blame the owners and I blame the fans and definitely those smarmy bastards in the media. They’re the worst.

I blame you. Hell, I think I blame Matt Vasgersian.

But whomever is at fault, we have here an epidemic of feet strangling their owners when everything seems their cheeriest. And unless we live in such misery-enriched times that good times are only precursors to far worse ones, there is no sensible explanation. Players’ windpipes are no smaller than they were a decade ago. The Internet is older than seven years. Close-out games are not materially more difficult than they were before 2010.

And yet winning that one extra game is suddenly like finding out your SAT test has been written totally in anagrams. In other words, when things look brightest, that’s when you know you’re totally screwed.

And if you don’t believe me, ask Terry Francona. In a few weeks maybe. Not right away. Not unless you’re keen to see how it feels to have your neck used as a bathmat.