Donaldson, Blue Jays knock around A’s

Kendall Graveman fell victim to the most powerful offensive force in baseball Tuesday night, as the Toronto Blue Jays and former Athletic Josh Donaldson rolled to a 7-1 win.

The former A’s third baseman, who was traded to Toronto for a package that included Graveman, turned in a performance on par with his last season in Oakland with two doubles and an RBI.

Graveman (L, 6-6, 3.78 ERA) gave up six runs on six hits, Edwin Encarcion and Jose Bautista both tagging the youngster for solo shots and catcher Russell Martin going deep for three runs.

A’s manager Bob Melvin said:

“Obviously (Graveman) gave up some home runs, but it didn’t look like they were balls up in the zone. It looked like they went down, at least on a couple of them.”

Melvin added:

“Just not one of his better nights. … The numbers will show that (Toronto) is the best offensive teams in the American League, and in baseball really. They have some speed at the top with Reyes, and they have power throughout.”

Even Toronto’s eighth hitter, outfielder Kevin Pillar, is one of the more impactful players of 2015. Pillar has 50 runs scored, 37 RBI, and 15 stolen bases after taking two on Tuesday night.

Photos by Jeffery Bennett/SFBay

Donaldson also recorded an RBI on his second double.

The evening isn’t an indictment on Graveman, who struggled in April before returning from the minors with some of the best stuff in baseball. But the team who reached 500 runs faster than any other since 2011 got to him, and got to him badly.

The first two home runs, solo shots from sluggers Bautista and Encarcion, weren’t out over the plate begging to be hit out of the park. They were low, and a bit outside.

Same could be said for some other at bats through the game, Toronto’s plate discipline resulted in five walks total. It’s what the A’s would like to be offensively, and were close to during the first half of 2014, but weren’t. And so Graveman, Brett Lawrie, and two high-upside prospects were traded to Oakland.

And Donaldson to Toronto.

Graveman said:

“Hats off to them for hitting mistakes … It was an honor to be part of that trade for Donaldson.”

Said Donaldson, who was clearly emotional in his first trip to Oakland as a member of the Blue Jays:

“It was one of those things where it’s unfamiliar territory. I didn’t know what to expect. … I didn’t know what would happen, until obviously you go out there and play.”

Donaldson chatted up third base coach Mike Gallego in spurts of the game where there was no action. He spoke with Melvin before the game, who told him that it was his fault that a taxi driver caused him to be two hours late to the Coliseum.

Donaldson also received massive cheers, probably more than any current A’s player did Tuesday, during his first two at bats.

The A’s received a fair number of players for him — including minor league shortstop Franklin Barretto, who ranks 22nd in Baseball America’s top 50 prospects — but the fanfare will take some time to die down for Donaldson, who was the team’s first legitimate MVP candidate since Jason Giambi.

And on Tuesday, they got bit by it, shown that the early stages of the deal clearly favor Toronto.

Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle (W, 11-5, 3.23 ERA) was efficient, throwing only 95 pitches through seven innings, allowing one run while striking out three.

Said Melvin:

“It seems like he’s always efficient.”

Buehrle exposed A’s hitters throughout the game, getting swings and misses and working the count early on, which turned into more swings at pitches that didn’t favor A’s hitters.

Oakland falls to 43-52 on the season, ahead of only Boston in the American League standings.

The A’s have ace Sonny Gray preparing to take the mound Wednesday night, and Scott Kazmir set to pitch on Thursday afternoon.

Until he duels with Gray — sureto be the equal to a friendlier and more fulfilling version of Mayweather-Pacquiao — Donaldson will have some time to catch up with guys whom he spent over 200 long days around for so many seasons. He said:

“I never thought I was going to be in this position. … I’m very blessed to be in this position right now. And I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for a lot of guys in that other locker room.”


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