NEW YORK – Kendall Graveman had to assume his first start at Yankee Stadium would be memorable, but some events just can’t be predicted.
Who would have guessed that Danny Valencia’s hamstring injury would lead to Graveman grabbing a bat and helmet and becoming the first pitcher to ever step to the plate at the new Yankee Stadium?
That will be something to share with his grandchildren. More importantly in the present, Graveman gave the A’s a fantastic effort on the mound as Oakland beat the Yankees 5-2 for their fourth victory in a row.
The right-hander allowed just three hits over 6 1/3 innings, ringing up a career-high eight strikeouts and tying his career high with 111 pitches.
Not too shabby for a Big Apple debut. But the story early in the game was an unsual chain of events that began with Valencia leaving the game with a strained left hamstring in the fourth after he was thrown out at home plate. Because the A’s don’t have a pure backup middle infielder on their roster, designated hitter Jed Lowrie had to enter at second base when Chris Coghlan shifted from second to third to replace Valencia.
That meant the A’s lost their DH and – ta-dah!! – Graveman suddenly became the A’s cleanup hitter. Sure enough, he came up for his first professional plate appearance with two runners aboard and two outs in the fifth. He struck out on three pitches from Nathan Eovaldi (1-1), but he did at least foul off a pitch.
Graveman became the first pitcher to hit in a game at the new Yankee Stadium since the venue opened in 2009. He also became the first A’s starting pitcher to hit in an American League game since Ken Holtzman in 1975.
There was no immediate word on how much time Valencia might miss.
Starting pitching report:
Graveman (1-1) snapped a six-game losing streak dating back to last season. That was the longest losing streak by an A’s pitcher since Tyson Ross lost eight decisions in a row in 2012.
Ryan Dull gave up Carlos Beltran’s eighth-inning homer, his first allowed and it came in his eighth outing. He was the first A’s pitcher since at least 1913 to begin his season with seven consecutive hitless outings.
At the plate:
The A’s erased a 1-0 deficit in the fourth, an inning that included no shortage of nuttiness. Back-to-back doubles from Billy Burns and Chris Coghlan tied it 1-1. Then Josh Reddick dumped a run-scoring single into left field. Third base coach Ron Washington took a big gamble by waving Coghlan around third even though Aaron Hicks retrieved the ball in shallow left. His throw skipped to the plate, Brian McCann couldn’t handle it, and the A’s led 2-1.
Stephen Vogt’s sacrifice fly made it 3-1, but Hicks would get even when he threw a strike to the plate to nail Valencia on Yonder Alonso’s fly to left. That kept it a two-run game.
Burns had three hits from the leadoff spot. The slumping Khris Davis was back in left field and though he struck out twice, he also had two singles, including a two-run base hit up the middle in the eighth that extended Oakland’s lead to 5-1.
In the field:
The seventh inning included an error from Burns, but also a terrific double play by Coghlan, who tagged Didi Gregorius going by and threw to first to get Aaron Hicks.
A crowd of 37,396 was on hand.
The A’s wrap this three-game series Thursday with Rich Hill (1-2, 4.15) matching up against right-hander Luis Severino (0-2, 5.91). First pitch is 4:05 p.m.