MESA, Ariz. — The ground-ball outs were an encouraging sign for Kendall Graveman, but it was an out recorded in a different fashion that also earned notice Friday afternoon.
Graveman wheeled and fired a strike to first to pick off the Giants’ Brandon Crawford in the second inning, highlighting his sharp two-inning effort as the A’s won 6-1 to continue their Cactus League dominance over their cross-bay rivals. They’ve won their past nine over San Francisco in games played in Arizona.
Graveman talks often about wanting to master all facets of his game. Showing a dangerous pickoff move is an extension of that, and A’s first baseman Yonder Alonso said it’s something the right-hander works hard at.
“It’s been known throughout the league that he’s got a really good (move),” Alonso said. “He’s always right on the bag. We work on that obviously. I try to tell him not to throw it at me, just throw it to the bag. That way it’s an easier tag. He’s probably one of the best I've had throwing the ball to me.”
Beyond that, manager Bob Melvin saw lots that he liked with Graveman. Primarily, three of his six outs coming on grounders. He surrendered one hit and one walk.
“I thought the sink was much better today,” Graveman said. “I mixed all my pitches today and threw them all for strikes.”
NOTEWORTHY: Alonso put the A’s on the board in the second with a solo homer to left off Jeff Samardzija. Known more for his slick glove, the first baseman has never cracked double digits in homers in a season, and it’s particularly rare that he muscles up to the opposite field. But Alonso said he’s making more of an effort this spring to use the whole field.
“Not necessarily going the other way but staying up the middle, being very stubborn with the strike zone,” he said. “Try to see some more pitches and making sure when I do get a strike, I’m putting my best swing out there.”
PROSPECT WATCH: Six A’s pitchers limited the Giants to just three hits. It was a mixture of veteran relievers making their exhibition debuts and minor league prospects trying to make an impression.
Melvin raved about right-hander Daniel Gossett, who threw two scoreless innings while the Giants still had several of their A-listers in the game. His only base runner came on a walk.
“One thing to look for in camp early on, for a guy that hasn’t been here, is poise,” Melvin said. “He’s throwing the ball over the plate. He’s got a good sinker too. You could see the confidence grow the longer he was out there. Our reports were really good on him and he comes as advertised. He’s going to be a good one.”
Paul Blackburn, another right-hander in his first A’s camp, also earned Melvin’s praise in his 1 2/3 innings of work.
ODDS AND ENDS: Ryan Dull issued two walks but notched a scoreless inning in his first outing, as Melvin said it seemed the righty was knocking off some rust. Liam Hendriks threw a scoreless frame with a strikeout. … Non-roster reliever Simon Castro has been an under-the-radar surprise so far, turning in three scoreless outings. He threw 1 1/3 innings with two strikeouts. … Ryon Healy, who served as designated hitter, connected for his first spring homer in the fourth off Chris Stratton. Non-roster outfielder Kenny Wilson hit a three-run shot in the seventh.