Graveman's sinker leaves Rangers in fits

Righty flirts with no-hitter, improves to 2-0 in two starts

Graveman's sinker leaves Rangers in fits

ARLINGTON -- A's right-hander Kendall Graveman carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning at Globe Life Park on Saturday evening, carving up a potent Rangers lineup with a heavy offering of sinkers -- until Mike Napoli got hold of one and belted it out of the park with two outs.

The estimated 420-foot blast ended Graveman's bid at history, but the right-hander would not be denied a much-deserved win -- his second in as many tries this season -- as the A's held off Texas, 6-1.

Oakland's substitute ace, pitching at the front of the rotation in place of the injured Sonny Gray, continues to marvel.

"Incredible," first baseman Yonder Alonso said. "I think the league knows how good he is. We know how good he is. Today he was just so sharp. He had command, was down in the zone, his ball was moving a ton. It was just so much fun to play behind him."

"His stuff was moving so much today," Texas' Nomar Mazara said. "He was locating wherever he wanted to."

Graveman induced 12 ground-ball outs, compared to just two in the air. He struck out five, walked one and was efficient in needing 85 pitches to get through his seven innings. The A's offense did the rest, plating three insurance runs in the next frame and another in the ninth to secure his fate.

Oakland evened the weekend series with the Rangers behind a superb Graveman, who has allowed just three earned runs in 13 innings this season. After yielding six hits in an Opening Night start against the Angels, Graveman held the Rangers to two, with Rougned Odor singling after Napoli's homer.

"It's definitely a good feeling knowing you have good stuff that night and that you haven't allowed a hit, but then there's also a sense of, hey, you got to continue to attack and you can't walk anyone because then the tying run is at the plate," Graveman said. "I think we did a good job of attacking, and a solo home run didn't beat us."

"That was fun," catcher Stephen Vogt said. "Anytime somebody's got a sinker working like that with that kind of velocity behind it, with the location where it is, it's a pretty easy job back there, and it was a lot of fun to just kind of sit back and watch it tonight. That's an unbelievable lineup over there. He was outstanding."

Odor was Graveman's first baserunner of the game, walking with one out in the second. The Rangers infielder reached second when Graveman threw a Jonathan Lucroy grounder slightly left of shortstop Marcus Semien for an error, with both runners safe. Graveman got the job done quickly thereafter, though, inducing a comebacker from Joey Gallo he fielded for the start of an inning-ending double play.

Graveman starts a double play

By the time the seventh inning began, Graveman was sitting at just 73 pitches.

"That's nerve-wracking for us, especially this time of year, when you keep looking back at the pitch count and hope you don't get into an uncomfortable situation," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "But it was pretty impressive, and in this ballpark you got to work hard, especially when the wind is blowing out and you got to keep the ball down."

That's Graveman's specialty.

"I thought he had no-hitter stuff tonight for sure," Vogt said. "Everybody knew what was coming and still couldn't find the holes.

"He's the ace of our staff right now. ... He's pitching with so much confidence on the mound, and so much presence on the mound."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.