OAKLAND — In 13 seasons as a major league manager, Bob Melvin has never endured a year quite like 2016.
On Monday night, as the Oakland Athletics won for just the second time in 10 games, Melvin sent Kendall Graveman to the mound — the lone remaining member of the club’s original rotation.
“I guess there’s going to be years like this,” Melvin said. “I hope [there’s] not another one.”
In the 3-2 win, Graveman halted what had been a brutal stretch for the makeshift staff. Entering the night, the rotation owned an 0-7 record, a 9.07 ERA and a .365 opponents average in the last nine games.
In his seven innings of work, Graveman allowed just one Baltimore Oriole to cross the plate and retired 14 of his 21 outs on the ground.
“Kendall was outstanding against arguably one of the toughest lineups [in baseball],” Stephen Vogt said. “Kendall did such a great job. He didn’t make mistakes, he stayed down in the zone and mixed in all four pitches — I think that was kind of the difference.”
At the plate, Vogt was the difference. With the backstop mired in a 5-for-42 slide entering the game, A’s hitting coach Darren Bush recommended that Vogt follow a more aggressive approach.
“I’ve been a little passive the last couple of weeks,” Vogt said. “So, after my first at bat — when I popped up — I said, ‘I don’t care what happens. I’m swinging hard. I’m not going to go down soft.’”
The strategy worked. Vogt homered over the out-of-town scoreboard in right field in the fourth innings and scored the club’s only other runs in the sixth and seventh, respectively.
Following the win, the A’s also got good news on the injury front. Melvin said that Sonny Gray has a muscle strain and inflammation in the top of his right forearm, but has no structural damage and will avoid surgery.