OAKLAND – Relying on precision more than power, A’s starter Kendall Graveman needs spot-on pitch location to have success.
His command deserted him at inopportune times Tuesday, and the results were predictable against Toronto’s vaunted offense. Graveman got rocked for three home runs and the A’s fell 7-1 in the opener of a three-game series at the Coliseum.
The pregame spotlight focused on Josh Donaldson’s first game back at the Coliseum since being traded from Oakland in November. There was little attention paid to Graveman, who also was facing his former team as one of four players acquired by the A’s in exchange for Donaldson.
It hardly went as planned for the right-hander, who went 5 1/3 innings and gave up six runs, his most in 11 starts since returning from the minors May 23. There’s little margin for error against the Blue Jays, the American League’s highest-scoring team.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a solo shot to left in the second. The game was still within reach, 2-0, until the sixth. With one out, Jose Bautista crushed a first-pitch homer to left-center. Then Graveman issued consecutive walks to Encarnacion and Justin Smoak before Russell Martin unloaded on a three-run shot that put the Jays ahead 6-0.
There was no battling back against Toronto lefty Mark Buehrle (10-6), who threw seven innings of one-run ball, the type of efficient outing that has marked the career of the five-time All-Star.
Starting pitching report:
A 10-day layoff due to the All-Star break surely could have contributed to Graveman’s struggles. After stringing together six consecutive starts of seven or more innings and two or fewer runs, Graveman (6-6) has allowed 10 runs over his past two outings. In the previous start, before the break, his pitching line suffered thanks to a bullpen breakdown. On Tuesday, he drove his pitch count up in a 26-pitch fifth inning, when he held Toronto off the scoreboard but labored. He’s allowed three walks in three of his past four outings, and the rookie needs to reduce that number to help get himself back on the winning track.
Donaldson, batting second in Toronto’s lineup, received a hearty standing ovation when introduced before his first plate appearance. He went hitless in his first three at-bats before doubling in a run in the seventh off Dan Otero. Donaldson added an opposite-field double off Evan Scribner in the ninth, with the score 7-1, to cap a 2-for-5 night.
A bright spot for the A’s – 1 1/3 scoreless innings from lefty Fernando Abad.
At the plate:
After roughing up Tommy Milone on Sunday, the A’s couldn’t do it against a second consecutive lefty. Buehrle held them down all night, scattering eight hits and issuing zero walks. The only damage came from Jake Smolinski. After homering twice Sunday, Smolinski made an impact again with a triple to right-center in the sixth that scored Ben Zobrist for the A’s only run. They’re 6-17 in games started by an opposing left-hander, with another one on tap Wednesday in Felix Doubront.
In the field:
The only error of the night came from Donaldson at third base. He threw wildly to first to allow Marcus Semien to reach base in the third.
The announced turnout was 19,364.
Coming off a rare shaky outing, Sonny Gray (10-4, 2.29) takes the mound in Wednesday’s 7:05 p.m. game. He’ll oppose the Blue Jays’ Felix Doubront (1-0, 4.50), who represents the third lefty starter in a row the A’s will have faced.