OAKLAND — Four months and five days after Kendall Graveman collected his last win, the Oakland A’s right-hander finally delivered another one on Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum.
Like so many of his colleagues in recent weeks, Graveman began the day in ominous fashion. The Baltimore Orioles needed just three batters to stake a 1-0 lead and added another run in the second.
Following his underwhelming start, Graveman wouldn’t allow any more damage in his seven innings of work — a welcome development for manager Bob Melvin who’d watched his staters run up a 7.83 ERA in the last 15 games.
“Early on, you’re thinking the way things have been going, you can’t help but think, ‘Do we have to get somebody up here pretty soon?’” manager Bob Melvin admitted after the 9-3 win.
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“What was it — six or seven hits real early,” Melvin added. “He got some double plays and then after that, it was like what we’re used to seeing. Maybe it was just settling in and getting a couple of games under his belt after a long period of time off.”
Graveman, who surrendered eight hits and a walk while striking out eight, received all the support he’d need in the top of the fourth.
“I think that’s the best I’ve actually pitched in a while,” Graveman said. “So to be able to go out and locate like I did, I did a good job of locating down and away and throwing that fastball coming in when I needed to — especially against a right-handed lineup like that.”
Courtesy of a trio of young sluggers — Ryon Healy, Matt Olson and Matt Chapman — the A’s dropped a five spot on their guests during that frame.
Healy produced a run-scoring double, Olson brought in a run with a fielder’s choice and then Chapman capped the rally with his eighth home run — a two-run blast.
“To put together an at bat like that, which is at the time the key at bat of the game. It gives us a little distance,” Melvin said of Chapman’s two-run homer. “It gives us the lead and there’s a big difference between three more runs like that. 5-2. So that was a big at bat for him.”
After Matt Joyce pushed the advantage to 8-2 with a two-run drive of his own in the bottom of the sixth, Olson added a long ball in the eighth, crushing a 97 mph fastball from Zach Britton.
“I don’t even know what to say about the homer off Britton,” Melvin said. “For a lefty to do that — no one’s hit a home run off him this year, let alone a lefty.”
With the 412-foot blast, Olson has homered in three consecutive games, joining Healy, Chapman and Khris Davis in that club. The rookie first baseman also now has seven home runs in 24 games.
“This is why we make the type of moves we did,” Melvin said. “So we can get a chance to see him full time and he has impressed right away.”