OAKLAND — He’s been a steadying force for the A’s rotation in 2016, but Kendall Graveman had an afternoon to forget Saturday.
That it came against Seattle wasn’t a surprise.
The Mariners have had Graveman’s number this season, and that continued in their 14-3 demolishing of the A’s at the Coliseum. Graveman got tagged for eight earned runs and 12 hits, both career highs, in five-plus innings.
Thus, a matchup against Felix Hernandez that had the makings of a pitcher’s duel instead became a laugher. Graveman (10-10) came in having allowed just four earned runs over his previous three starts, with a 9-3 record and 3.18 ERA over his past 18 outings dating back to May. But the Mariners remain a riddle he can’t solve. Graveman is 0-3 with a 7.48 ERA in four starts against Seattle in 2016.
Nelson Cruz has been the biggest thorn in his side, and the Mariners cleanup man went 3-for-3 against him with two doubles and three RBI Saturday. For his career, Cruz is 10-for-15 against Graveman. Leadoff man Nori Aoki also did damage, with two doubles, the second of which scored two runs in the sixth and chased Graveman, with Seattle leading 8-0.
It’s been an odd homestand from a pitching standpoint, with the A’s having allowed three runs or fewer in four of the games, but 10 runs or more in the other four. Saturday’s loss also ensured the A’s (60-81 overall) finish with a losing record at home for a second consecutive season. Only three previous times in Oakland history have they posted back-to-back sub-.500 records at home.
Starting pitching report:
Things took a wrong turn early for Graveman, and that’s unusual. He entered the day with the third-lowest ERA in the first inning in the league (1.33). But Aoki led the game off with a double and eventually scored on Robinson Cano’s double-play grounder. With the bases empty, Graveman couldn’t close the inning out. Cruz doubled and Kyle Seager scored him with a single to right. It was the first time Graveman allowed any runs in the first since May 24. He turned in a scoreless second, but the Mariners struck for four in the third. Cruz lined a two-run double to the left field wall with the bases loaded. Jesus Sucre dribbled an infield single that scored another and Ben Gamel’s fielder’s choice grounder brought a run home. Anki’s two-run double in the sixth finally ended Graveman’s day.
J.B. Wendelken relieved Graveman and struck out Seth Smith and Cruz to finish the sixth. But Seattle poured it on with six more in the seventh, with five of those runs behind charged to Wendelken in his 1 1/3 innings.
At the plate:
Given a comfy early lead, Hernandez (11-5) blanked the A’s over six innings before leaving things to his bullpen. He improved to 12-3 lifetime at the Coliseum. But the A’s haven’t been scoring many runs regardless of opponent. They’re averaging just 2.79 runs per game over the past 14 contests, and two of their most important run producers have gone very cold. Cleanup man Khris Davis is just 6-for-47 (.128) with 21 strikeouts over his last 14 games. No. 3 hitter Stephen Vogt snapped an 0-for-18 streak with a first-inning single, but he’s hitting just .184 (25-for-136) over his last 39 games.
Ryon Healy provided something to cheer about with a two-run homer in the eighth. He has eight homers and is hitting .290 in 51 games.
In the field:
The Mariners committed the game’s only error, which brought the A’s first run home in the seventh on Joey Wendle’s grounder to third.
The announced turnout was 18,438.
After struggling big-time with his command in his big league debut, Raul Alcantara (0-1, 15.00) takes the mound for his second career start in Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. series finale. The Mariners counter with lefty James Paxton (4-6, 4.03), who is making his first start against the A’s since Sept. 2014.