ARLINGTON (AP) — Kendall Graveman is the Oakland Athletics’ ace in the absence of injured Sonny Gray, and pitched Saturday night like he deserves the recognition full time.
Graveman held Texas hitless until Mike Napoli homered with two outs in the seventh inning, and the A’s beat the Rangers and Yu Darvish 6-1.
Graveman (2-0) gave up two hits in seven innings, striking out five and walking one primarily with an effective sinker. The 26-year-old righty won on opening day, too.
“He’s our ace of our staff right now,” catcher Stephen Vogt said. “Darvish was outstanding as well today in his own way, and Kendall outpitched him. He’s the guy we know can go and do that for us every time out.”
Graveman had allowed only one runner and had a 2-0 lead before Napoli sent a drive into Oakland’s bullpen in left-center for his first home run of the season. While he was aware of his no-hit bid, he said he was more concerned with a tight ballgame during his final inning.
“You’ve got to continue to attack because you can’t walk anyone and then the tying run’s at the plate,” he said.
Napoli’s homer relieved A’s manager Bob Melvin of the burden of whether to allow Graveman, who threw 85 pitches, to continue with the no-hit try.
“Nerve-wracking for us, especially this time of the year,” Melvin said.
A pair of A’s relievers finished the combined two-hitter.
Darvish (0-1) allowed one run in six innings on four hits and three walks, striking out five. His 3-10 career record against Oakland is his worst against any big league opponent.
Oakland’s first run was scored by Matt Joyce following a leadoff walk on a 3-2 pitch that Darvish thought could have been called a strike. Ryon Healy followed with a double, and Joyce scored on a one-out grounder.
“I’ve got to let it go,” Darvish said of the walk through a translator. “I’ve got to execute the next pitch and get them out. That was my focus.”
Yonder Alonso, who turned 30 on Saturday, homered during a three-run eighth.
Jed Lowrie had three hits for the A’s, including an RBI double.
Nomar Mazara, the majors’ leading hitter going into the game at .588 for Texas, went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts for his first hitless game of the season.
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