The Oakland A’s were gifted home runs so early and often Monday night you might think Oprah Winfrey started the game for Colorado.
The A’s dominated, and starter Kendall Graveman (W, 5-4, 3.47 ERA) pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing five hits while striking out three.
The outing marks Graveman’s fifth consecutive start lasting seven or more innings with two runs or fewer, though it’s only his second win over that span.
Melvin explained how much it’s meant to the club, getting quality start after quality start from the fifth man in Oakland’s rotation:
“Tremendously. If you get a fifth starter pitching like that, it means that everyone is contributing. … We saw what he had in Spring Training, and since he’s come back he’s pitched as consistently as anybody in our rotation.”
“I think the confidence factor is definitely there. It’s something that I felt when I was in spring training, but then lost it a little bit when the season started here. But to go back down to Nashville and work with those guys, and be productive down there, and come back and contribute here, has been great.”
What makes the performance that much more appreciable is that the Rockies’ one through five hitters are some of the league’s best, headlined by third baseman Nolan Arenado, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, and Fremont native Troy Tulowitzki.
Even more remarkable, Gonzalez, a two-time All Star, has the worst batting average among Monday’s starters, hitting .246 this season.
The next lowest after Gonzalez? Leadoff slugger Charlie Blackmon, who has 10 home runs, 44 runs and 32 RBI, while batting .277.
Graveman touched on the mile-high hitting:
“We were sitting out there in (batting practice), and there’s not a guy out there hitting under .270 I don’t thing, so to look at that lineup up there, hats off to them. A great hitting lineup. … You really have to bear down and try to limit the damage that they do against you.”
Graveman has a 1.50 ERA over his last five starts, rebounding in tremendous fashion after a terrible April which saw the 24-year-old sent to the minors to regain his form.
Graveman appears to be the next great pitcher the A’s will raise in the big leagues, acquiring him from Toronto via the infamous Josh Donaldson trade.
Designated hitter Billy Butler may wind up as the night’s unsung helper, not quite counting for heroics, but scoring three runs, one on Davis’ first inning homer, another with a home run of his own, and again after a Brett Lawrie triple.
It was Butler’s first home run since mid-June, the free agent signing taking a backseat to whomever else while posting a .210 batting average entering Monday night.
“It’s nice to get you middle of the order guys, and the guys that you expect to drive in runs, not only hitting the ball out of the ballpark but giving you an early lead so that (Graveman) can have a little breathing room.”
Butler also earned a second RBI late in the eighth inning with a double that sent him to third on an error.
“(Butler)’s been grinding on it, I know he wants to be the guy that we brought in here to drive in runs. And we definitely saw that tonight. … Sometimes it takes a game or two where you get some good swings, hit some balls hard. And then you’re off to the races.”
The Rockies entered the night with the league’s worse starting ERA, 5.07, and saw that number rise by the inning as the A’s slathered home plate with their own brand of barbecue sauce, complete with cleats and maybe even some of last year’s sewage.
Possibly more disgusting than sewage at the Coliseum, a flock of hundreds of seagulls swarmed the coliseum and left their own mark.
While it was laughter after the game, the situation could have turned into an injury if a ball was put in play, the birds landing on the outfield grass and leaving trails of feces.
At one point, Reddick placed his glove atop his cap to protect himself from a potential bird bath of sorts. Reddick joked, sort of:
“Disturbing, really. I tried to do the best I could to protect my face or my hat from being pooped on. It was kind of strange. I don’t know what it was, but something was out on the outfield grass that they seemed to enjoy.”
Ike Davis added:
“There was poop on the infield. It was kind of scary. … There was a couple on first base, so I was always kind of looking up.”