Sensational Graveman outduels King Felix
OAKLAND -- In the past, when manager Bob Melvin has moseyed to the mound, Kendall Graveman knows he's likely thrown his final pitch. But in Saturday's 2-0 win over the Mariners, that wasn't the case.
"Every time it's been, 'Hey, good job,'" said Graveman. "This time it was, 'You got some left in the tank?'"
"Yeah, I've got some left."
He wasn't lying. After Melvin visited with no outs in the seventh and runners on first and second, Graveman retired three straight Mariners to cap a sensational performance.
Graveman tossed seven shutout innings, extending his scoreless streak to 16 and outdueling Mariners ace Felix Hernandez in the process.
"Ever since he got called back up from Triple-A, he's been lights out," reliever Evan Scribner said. "He's pitching just as good as anybody in baseball."
Graveman is the first rookie in Oakland history to toss seven or more innings and allow two runs or fewer in six straight starts.
He's allowed just six runs over his last six starts and can now add beating one of the game's premier pitchers to his growing list of accolades.
"As a kid, I grew up watching [Hernandez] and seeing him on SportsCenter every five days," Graveman said. "It's an honor to step on the same rubber as he did tonight."
Graveman allowed Mariners to reach base in each of the first two innings, but he escaped unscathed both times. He cruised from the third through the sixth, allowing just one baserunner during that stretch.
But the defining moment of his outing, and perhaps of his career thus far, came in the seventh inning.
Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz led off the inning with singles, and that's when Melvin made what Graveman thought might have been a fateful walk. Instead it was a meeting that helped cement Graveman's sizzling performance.
Graveman got Kyle Seager to fly to shallow left. On the next play, Seth Smith hit a grounder toward Ike Davis. Davis lunged and dove to his right, snared the ball and tossed it toward Graveman.
Graveman caught the ball in stride and hit the bag almost simultaneously, recording arguably the game's most pivotal out in the process.
"It's probably the longest stride he's taken in his life," Melvin said.
Melvin -- who said that Graveman had the best mix of pitches he's seen from him -- was particularly impressed with his pitcher's ability to retire two straight lefties.
He called the Seager and Smith outs the key outs of the game.
But Graveman still had to get Mark Trumbo. Cano and Cruz represented the potential tying and go-ahead runs at the time, and Graveman had to ensure his efforts didn't go to waste.
"You get a little adrenaline going. The fans get behind you," Graveman said. "You find a little extra gear to get out of it. You know you've got to empty the tank."
And empty the tank he did, getting Trumbo to fly to right, eliciting a raucous ovation from an already-standing crowd and proving that Melvin made the right decision to keep him in the game.
Graveman has a 1.25 ERA in his last five starts and has won three straight. Since returning from Nashville on May 23, he's been an entirely different pitcher.
"The thing that's impressed me, it's not the stuff or the way he's pitching," catcher Stephen Vogt said. "It's the way he's composed out there on the mound. He got into some trouble, and it didn't rattle him at all."