DALLAS - We had ourselves an ol' fashioned pitchers' duel and pitcher who had the better numbers on the night came out of the fracas with a loss. Unfortunately for Texas, that pitcher and that loss were pinned on Nick Martinez (3-5) as Players Weekend began Friday night in Oakland.
Athletics' starting pitcher Kendall Graveman (4-4) took the mound tonight wearing the nickname "Digger" on his back. It was perhaps the second most apt nickname on the field as Graveman spent most of the night inducing ground balls off the bats of the Rangers as they dug their own grave.
The most apt nickname of the night was worn by Oakland left fielder Khris Davis. Wearing "Khrush" on his back, the recent thorn in the side of the Rangers hit two solo home runs as he continues to terrorize Texas. Either Graveman or Davis could have worn "Rangers Killer" on their uniform and it would have been just as correct.
For Graveman, it was a dominant night on the mound but one that came in an unusual fashion The Oakland right-hander allowed nine hits in seven innings and struck out six Rangers without allowing a walk. Despite the large number of hits allowed, Graveman seemed in control and out of danger for most of the night.
With a devastating mix of two-seam sinkers and cutters, Graveman carved up the lower part of the zone and was gifted more than his share of borderline calls on the corners. The Rangers did get a run off Graveman in the top of the first inning on an Adrian Beltre RBI single that brought home Delino DeShields.
DeShields' single was followed by a strikeout of Shin-Soo Choo but Elvis Andrus singled to give Texas one of just six opportunities with runners in scoring position on the night which Beltre capitalized on for an early lead. Texas wouldn't score again for the rest of the night as Nomar Mazara followed by grounding into a double play to end the first inning.
Between then and when Graveman exited, the Rangers collected just six more hits and never more than one in any inning while hitting into three double plays.
The only time the Rangers didn't have a runner reach base was the ninth inning, however Texas managed just two extra base hits — a Rougned Odor one-out double in the second, and a Robinson Chirinos two-out triple in the seventh — and neither of them scored.
Graveman finished the night going seven innings while allowing nine hits, one run, zero walks, and six strikeouts. The line was similar to an outing Graveman had against these Rangers back in April when he went seven innings and allowed one run on two hits, a walk, and five strikeouts.
But Graveman's outing wasn't even the best night for a Rangers Killer as Davis hit two solo home runs off Martinez — one in the fourth to tie the game and one in the seventh to give Oakland the eventual winning run — to continue his torrid homer barrage against Texas.
Adding in tonight's two blasts, Davis has hit 15 home runs against Texas in his career — two more than his total against the Seattle Mariners for most against any team — which included ten last season and four this season.
Though he succumbed to Davis' mastery of the Rangers, Nick Martinez's return to the rotation was a successful one even as he ended up a hard luck loser. You could even argue that Martinez out-pitched Graveman as he allowed just four hits, three runs, and struck out seven in his seven innings of work but the long ball will beat you in today's game and that's what ended up being the difference.
The loss kicks the Rangers back down to .500 ball with a 64-64 record and they find themselves two games back of the Minnesota Twins in the second Wild Card spot. For the A's, they won for just the fourth time in their last ten games overall and for just their fourth time in their last ten home games. The A's are now 56-72 on the year and in last place in the AL West.
The Rangers will look to bounce back from tonight's defeat with Cole Hamels (9-1) on the mound opposite Sean Manaea (8-8) of Oakland. First pitch from the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday afternoon is scheduled for 3:05 pm CT.
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