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Confidence key to Graveman's ace-like starts

OAKLAND -- Kendall Graveman is pitching like an ace in the back of the A's rotation. No longer lacking in confidence, the right-hander is thriving on it and ensuring his teammates a quality start every fifth day.

His Monday outing against Colorado, featuring seven scoreless innings in a 7-1 A's Interleague victory, provided further proof.

In what's becoming routine, Graveman was excellent, allowing a powerful Rockies lineup just five hits -- all singles -- and inducing eight ground-ball outs, lowering his season ERA to 3.47.

Graveman's yielded just 12 earned runs in 53 2/3 innings for a 2.01 ERA in eight starts since his return from Triple-A Nashville on May 23, tossing seven or more innings and allowing two runs or fewer in each of his last five outings.

"It's something special," Josh Reddick said. "What we saw early in the year, he kind of struggled. That's why you get sent back down at a young age. You gotta go down there and work on stuff, and he seems to have figured it out pretty quick. He's transitioned that pretty well here."

"As a young guy, you get off to a rough start and you're kind of doubting yourself in the big leagues, and you go down and are able to work on some things," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He did, and he took it very seriously. He worked on what we asked him to work on, and when he came back, he had a good first start and was on his way."

Confidence has been just as crucial as his signature sinker.

"I think the confidence factor is definitely there," Graveman said. "It's something I felt when I was at Spring Training. Then I lost it a little bit when I started the season here. To go back down to Nashville and work with those guys and be productive down there, and then come back and contribute here, has been great.

"You want to get out there and perform. I was just putting too much pressure on myself in the beginning of the season."

Video: [email protected]: Melvin on Graveman and Butler's performances

Now, Graveman is keeping pace with his rotation mates. Together, they have a 3.08 ERA, which ranks first in the American League, ahead of Tampa Bay's 3.11. When adding a bookend, that number falls to 2.46 over the A's last 35 games, with their starters allowing one run or fewer 17 times over that stretch.

"If you get a fifth starter pitching like that, it means everyone in the rotation is contributing," Melvin said. "And if you look at our numbers, everyone is contributing. We saw what he had in Spring Training, and since he's come back, he's pitched as consistently as anyone we have in the rotation."

Jane Lee is a reporter for
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