OAKLAND — The A’s night began with Kendall Graveman making what appeared to be a strong bid for history.
It ended with the sight of the Rangers celebrating a division title on the Coliseum turf.
Suffice it to say it wasn’t the most jovial atmosphere in the A’s clubhouse after a 3-0 loss gave Texas its second consecutive American League West crown. Graveman only hopes something was learned from it.
“It’s not a good feeling,” Graveman said of seeing an opponent celebrate, “but I think it opens eyes to all the guys here of what we want to do” in the future.
Graveman’s night turned in the seventh, during which the Rangers broke up his perfect game and no-hitter, ended his shutout bid and commanded a 3-0 lead, all in a four-batter sequence that was capped by Adrian Beltre’s two-run homer.
It was a tough swing for Graveman, who was dialed in with his sinker and said his location was the best it’s been in about a year.
“He was unbelievable tonight,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “That’s as good as his sinker’s been in a really long time. … He had perfect-game type stuff. The only issue with a sinkerballer like that is a ground ball finds a hole, and unfortunately one did.
“And Adrian Beltre just continued to haunt us.”
Beltre’s two-run shot to left was his 37th career homer against the A’s, sixth-most of any opponent in Oakland history. He was tied with Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk.
“That was a slider, which I think was the first slider he threw the whole game,” Beltre said. “I was not suspecting that pitch, but he left it right over the plate. I was lucky enough to put a good swing on it.”
The Rangers have held a sizable AL West lead for much of the season, so the clinching of their seventh division title in club history was inevitable. They celebrated and donned championship shirts on the A’s infield, but it was hardly a raucous display. Back in their clubhouse, they initially celebrated with ginger ale in the company of relievers Matt Bush and Jeremy Jeffress. Both have had drunk-driving arrests in the past, with Bush serving time in prison.
Only afterward did the Rangers celebrate with champagne.
With the division title secured, Texas (91-63) now shifts its focus to trying to secure home-field advantage throughout the AL postseason bracket. They lead AL Central-leading Cleveland by a half-game and AL East-leading Boston by one game.
“It's just the first step,” Beltre said. “It's easy to get where we are right now. We took the first step to win the division and get into the playoffs. We have a good enough team to win the World Series. That's our goal.”
Graveman (10-11) surrendered just four hits over his seven innings, with three strikeouts and no walks. Despite taking the loss, he came away satisfied with his overall performance and credited Vogt’s pitch-calling. He was perfect through six innings and had thrown just 59 pitches, and he couldn’t help but be aware of what was happening.
“You’ve retired 18 straight, so you just try to go out and continue to make pitches,” Graveman said. “I think the biggest thing when you’ve done that, what do you do? Do you keep doing the same thing to get them out or do you try something different? That’s where the mind game kinda comes in.”
Several Athletics stayed in the dugout and watched the Rangers celebrate. It’s a feeling Graveman has experienced before.
“When I was with Toronto, before I came over here, we saw Baltimore clinch on their field,” he said. “It’s something that sticks with you and it sticks all offseason. I hope it shows some of (the A’s) how fun it can be, and what you need to work on this offseason moving forward.”