OAKLAND — Kendall Graveman watched many, many at-bats of Yonder Alonso’s as a teammate.
He got his first chance Tuesday to put some of that knowledge to work as an opponent.
What an odd dynamic it was for the A’s to face their beloved teammate just two days after the A’s traded him to Seattle. Alonso went 1-for-5 in the Mariners’ 7-6 10-inning victory, with just a check-swing single to show for his first game with his new team.
He didn’t factor heavily into the storyline of Oakland’s defeat. But Alonso was deep in the thoughts of A’s players, including Graveman, who was making just his second start since returning from a 2 1/2-month stay on the disabled list.
“We’ve seen him all year, we’ve been able to watch him,” Graveman said. “So to be able to attack the way I did was good. He’s on another team now. He’s no longer a teammate.”
That was the competitive way to view the situation. But close ties don’t just evaporate, and Alonso was very tight with many players in the A’s clubhouse.
“It was a little awkward, I miss him already,” A’s left fielder Khris Davis said. “I wish him the best. He’s a great teammate and I want to see him do well.”
Davis launched his 30th homer of the season, a three-run blast in the first that got the A’s off to a great start. Ryon Healy would add his 21st homer in the fifth to open up a 6-2 lead. Graveman could not take that cushion and make it stand though. The Mariners got to him for two runs in the sixth before A’s manager Bob Melvin came with the hook.
And though three errors, some key hits off the bullpen and a lack of late-inning offense helped seal the A’s fate in this one, what also stood out was another starting effort that was too short. In five of the past seven games, A’s starters have worked less than six innings.
Graveman took some encouragement from improving over his two-inning start Thursday against the Giants, but he also couldn’t take advantage of the prosperity granted by his team’s early offense.
“I got a quick out in the sixth, but we’ve got to find a way to continue to get outs there,” said Graveman, who worked 5 1/3 innings total. “I thought my stuff flattened out a little there toward the end. I started leaving some pitches up and they did a good job putting the ball in play.”
Graveman denied fatigue playing a factor in the sixth, but Melvin said in his postgame comments that it appeared the sinkerballer was getting tired.
“I thought he threw the ball better and probably goes deeper into the game next time.”
The uniqueness of seeing Alonso in the opposing dugout should be in the rear-view mirror. Now the A’s need to focus on tightening up their defense and getting longer nights’ work from their starting pitchers to take advantage of this long nine-game stay at the Coliseum.