OAKLAND – Kendall Graveman surely could get used to this treatment.
Done in by a lack of run support for parts of June, the rookie has been staked to huge early leads in each of his past two starts. The A’s struck for four runs in the first inning Monday and coasted to a 7-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies in the opener of a three-game set at the Coliseum.
Josh Reddick and Ike Davis clubbed two-run homers off David Hale (2-3) in the bottom of the first. It was déjà vu for Graveman, who was handed a 5-0 lead in the top of the first before he even took the mound at Texas in his previous outing.
Billy Butler added a solo shot in the fourth to add a little cushion Monday, and the A’s took a strong first step to wipe out the bitter taste of a weekend sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals.
Graveman (5-4) knew how to take advantage of the run support. He allowed just five hits over seven scoreless innings, handing things over to his bullpen to finish the job.
The A’s bullpen blew a save at Boston on June 7 to rob Graveman of a victory, then the A’s lost 1-0 and 3-1 in his next two starts. Graveman took the defeat in those games despite pitching very well. His teammates have made up for it, scoring a combined nine first-inning runs over his past two starts.
Starting pitching report:
The A’s home run display shouldn’t take away from Graveman’s recent body of work. Over his past five starts, the right-hander has posted a 1.50 ERA (6 earned runs in 36 IP). The key, manager Bob Melvin said before the game, is Graveman getting better movement on his pitches lower in the strike zone. The rookie continues his excellent form since returning from Triple-A Nashville on May 23.
The Rockies spoiled the shutout when Charlie Blackmon when homered off Evan Scribner in the eighth. Scribner’s six homers allowed entering the night were tied for second-most allowed among AL relievers.
With two outs and a man on first that inning, he gave way to Drew Pomeranz, who struck out Carlos Gonzalez for the third out. Tyler Clippard handled a low-pressure ninth.
At the plate:
The A’s have been one of the American League’s more proficient run-scoring teams this season, but the long ball hasn’t been a big part of that attack.
They entered Monday tied for third in the AL with 348 runs, but their 65 homers ranked just 11th out of 15 teams. Reddick struck quick for his first homer since June 12. He jumped on the first pitch he saw from Hale in the first and drove it over the wall in right. Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, fighting the sun, could only shade his eyes and watch the two-run shot sail out. After Butler singled, Ike Davis connected for his first homer since returning from the disabled list June 19, a two-run shot that made it 4-0.
In the fourth, Butler worked the count to 3-1 against Hale and drove the ball out to straightaway center, just to the left of the 400-foot sign. He added an RBI double down the left-field line in the eighth as part of his three-hit night.
In the field:
If you required a fly in the ointment, it came with Marcus Semien’s 24th error. He mishandled a ninth-inning grounder up the middle.
The opener of this interleague series drew a modest turnout of 12,125, though the crowd was bigger if you count the dozens of seagulls that circled the field and hovered over A’s outfielders in the top of the fifth. Reddick had the right idea with birds surrounding him, placing his glove on top of his head and leaving it there for a perfect Instagram moment.
Sonny Gray (9-3, 2.09) is trying to become just the fourth qualifying A’s pitcher over the last 25 years to take an ERA under 2.50 into the month of July. Justin Duchscherer (1.91 in 2008), Dan Haren (1.91 in 2007) and Gio Gonzalez (2.38 in 2011) were the others. Gray toes the rubber in Tuesday’s 7:05 p.m. game, matching up against Jorge De La Rosa (4-3, 3.15).