Here is a link to my column about the Rangers’ 10-1 win over the A’s. The full text runs below:
OAKLAND — In a sense, Thursday’s game didn’t matter to the A’s, didn’t matter when the Texas Rangers slaughtered them 10-1. The game was over after four innings — Texas led 8-0 and kept piling on.
The A’s record now is 2-2 and every A’s employee figured the team would lose at least two games this season. No need for anyone to panic. But a fair-minded person is allowed to think. And this game presented thinking material.
So, think about this. In their two wins, the A’s scored 18 runs. That’s a truckload of runs. Offense like that gives the impression these new A’s will murder you. But in their two losses, the A’s scored two runs. Total. Which means their hitters can be maximalists and minimalists. Up or down. Take your pick.
After the game, reporters asked manager Bob Melvin about the boom-or-bust trend. The A’s haven’t played enough games to define a trend, but you get the point.
“Well, its four games,” Melvin said. “I can’t argue with you. We had two games where we were offensively really good, and pitchers held them down. Actually, three of the games the pitching was good. I don’t really have an answer for you why we’re up and down offensively. I’m not sure yet.”
Melvin is the ultimate honest man. He doesn’t entirely know his team. That’s what he was saying. Who can blame him? The team is so new. Some players are so new. Melvin doesn’t totally understand the team and neither do you.
Answer this question. Which is the real A’s, the 18-run team or the 2-run team? The answer right now is both teams are the real A’s. If this stuff continues, the A’s will have a .500 record. Maybe a little better. But, honestly, who really knows? They are baseball’s biggest enigma.
There’s more thinking material. On Thursday, the A’s committed three errors — a gross amount of errors. The A’s are supposed to field well. I’m sure they do field well. But they didn’t. It makes you think. And wonder.
A’s pitchers gave up four home runs — a grosser amount than the three errors. Balls were flying out of the yard.
And that brings us to starting pitcher Kendall Graveman. You read all about him during spring training. Great stuff about him. Warning: Don’t put faith in what new players do in spring or what you read. This warning is for your own good.
Graveman is supposed to be a prodigy. Supposed to be a fixture in the starting rotation. He may be very good, but he was awful on Thursday veering toward dreadful. Gave up eight runs, seven earned runs in 3⅓ innings. His earned run average is 18.90. That’s some serious bloat. He is only 24 and he was facing famous hitters like Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder, and he seemed in awe of his big moment.
Because the Rangers whacked him in the first inning, pitching coach Curt Young visited the mound four batters into the game. That’s an uncommonly hasty visit. Some fans hadn’t yet found their seats. Some hadn’t sipped their beer or munched a single peanut or taken a preliminary bite out of a hot dog.
Reliever Jesse Chavez ripped off his jacket and started warming up when batter No. 6 approached the plate. All that happened before Graveman surrendered two homers. It was strictly bombs away for the Rangers.
This you should know. Graveman began last season in Single-A ball. In low Single-A. He eventually moved to high Single-A and then Double-A and then Triple-A. And then to the big leagues with Toronto. The Blue Jays fast-tracked him because he was good. Is good. He came to the A’s in the Josh Donaldson trade. He’s the kind of player A’s general manager Billy Beane salivates for. Young. Cheap. Promising. Under team control. And then Beane trades him.
So, he got fast-tracked to his first major-league start on Thursday. And he flopped. He was entitled. Young pitchers sometimes flop. And the Earth doesn’t deviate from its axis.
Afterward, Graveman stood at his locker looking grave. Grave in the sense of grim, and grave in the sense of emerging from the crypt.
“I’ve got to stay on top of the baseball,” he said gravely. “I was getting more east and west movement instead of north and south.”
Translation: Instead of coming over the top and giving his ball downward motion, he was throwing three-quarter arm, making his ball move right to left.
He continued. “I’ve got to stay on top of the baseball for my sinker to work. The arm slot was down a little bit.”
This point echoed what Melvin said about Graveman. “He was rushing a little bit, getting ahead of his arm. All of a sudden, you’re trying to find your arm slot.”
Baseball aficionados like us have heard the term “arm slot,” generally in a negative context. Mostly we’ve heard it from Tim Lincecum, who misplaced it several years ago and hasn’t found it since. Graveman doesn’t want to pull a Lincecum.
Graveman said one other thing. “I’ve got to find a way to make in-game adjustments.”
Translation: He knew he was screwing up, but he didn’t know what to do about it. Didn’t have the experience, poise, presence, knowledge to make things right, to self-correct.
His honesty is refreshing. Startling, actually. Praise him for it.
But, here’s some serious advice, no charge. Kendall, learn to self-correct. Learn fast. The A’s won’t wait on you. There isn’t a single big-league team that would wait. No one cares what you did in spring.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.