Astros dominate A’s starter Graveman

The A’s were picked away at by the Astros Saturday, with Oakland starter Kendall Graveman giving up a hit on his first pitch with things rolling downhill from there in a 9-3 loss.

Graveman made it through only 4-2/3 innings, allowing nine hits, six earned runs, one walk and striking out one.

By the end of the day, manager Bob Melvin refused to commit to Graveman on his next scheduled start:

“He started off a little rough, then had a pretty decent outing in Houston. And has continued to struggle some. He’s a command guy that usually isn’t in the middle of the plate, he’s hanging on the corners with subtle movement and he’s having a tough time finding that in the fashion that we saw in spring training. It’s a little bit of a concern now.”

Graveman’s outing has become par for the course since he dominated the competition in Spring Training, where he allowed just one run and 10 hits in 21 innings. Some wondered whether trading Donaldson for Graveman and a few others to Toronto for Josh Donaldson was a wise move.

But that feeling has long passed.

Graveman said:

“I’ve been working hard the last two weeks to get that movement back, but it’s just not showing up. It’s here one pitch and not there on the next. There’s early movement out of the hand instead of late.”

If Graveman doesn’t make his next start, the A’s have Jesse Chavez around to hold down the fort with starters Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin coming off the disabled list in early summer.

Oakland’s offense didn’t do much to back him, with only two hits entering the seventh inning — and some ugly defense.

The A’s lead major league baseball in errors with 19; two of them came in the same inning Saturday.

Melvin said:

“We’re not playing very well for the last five games or so. Before that, we’d lose some close games but we’d get consistent at bats, we’d get some guys on base. We were swinging the bats well. At this point, we’re not doing anything too terribly right.”

In the seventh inning, Josh Reddick went for a basket catch in right field, but the high pop fly slipped out of the webbing and rolled onto the warning track.

Two batters later, shortstop Marcus Semien was drifting back into left field for another high-fly, before being called off by left fielder Cody Ross. Ross couldn’t get his glove to the ball quick enough, though, and fell flat on his face, with the ball rolling past him before being picked up by Sam Fuld.

Ross, Reddick and Ike Davis would score in the bottom half of the seventh inning, but no more runs would cross for Oakland.

The A’s have been outscored 51-35 over their last 10 games, winning only three of those dating back to April 15.

In the A’s 11 losses, they’ve been outscored 72-28, and have committed nine errors in their last six games.

And they’re desperately trying to avoid being swept by a division foe who was once the laughingstock of baseball, but now leads the AL West.

And their leadoff hitter, Jose Altuve owns a 28 game hitting streak against the A’s, dating back to September 2013, the longest hitting streak of any Houston player against any team.

Though the season is young, Oakland is hitting the skids early — which isn’t good for any team, but especially for one with as much youth as the A’s.

They’re three games under .500, the worst they’ve been since 2012. What’s more, the A’s have yet to win a single day game.

The A’s will try and rectify that Sunday, as they start lefty Drew Pomeranz against Asher Wojciechowski for the 1:05 pm series finale.


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