BY RYAN LEONG
For any baseball team, it’s impossible to win or lose all of your games. So for the upstart Oakland Athletics, it was ideal that they split their opening four game series against the rival Los Angeles Angels.
Before the first pitch of the season was thrown, there were already doubters because Oakland’s ace, Sonny Gray was scratched and placed on the disabled list with a lat strain during spring training and shut down for throwing a baseball for three weeks.
In the home opener, sinkerballer Kendall Graveman got the ball and he did not disappoint. In 2016, Graveman was 10-11 with a 4.11 ERA in 31 starts. Graveman went six innings giving up six hits and two runs, striking out seven to pick up the win.
“We felt a good energy in Oakland since fan fest whem they announced the rooted in Oakland,” said catcher Steven Vogt who scored the first run of the season with a solo homer. “A lot of changes have happened and it’s been great. We feel it, the fans were absolutely electric tonight. Hopefully we can give them a team they can be proud of.”
Khris Davis who belted 42 home runs last season, picked up where he left off by homering twice as the A’s beat the Angels, 4-2.
“It’s pretty special, it was a special day with Rickey and just all around baseball it was just an exciting day,” said Davis, who became only the second player in Oakland history with two home runs on Opening night. The other was Jason Giambi in 2000 vs. Detroit. “It’s important (to win the opener). It feels great just to get some momentum going and get behind each other and build some chemistry.”
The A’s lost games two and three of the series. It appeared the second game was in hand until normally sure handed set-up man Ryan Dull gave up a ninth inning three-run homer to give the Angels a come from behind 7-6 win. Wednesday’s game was particularly tough as the Athletics were unable to score a run and the Angels won by a score of 5-0.
But Thursday’s finale turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Andrew Triggs who is a converted reliever, threw a career high 91 pitches in 5 2/3 innings for the win and first baseman Ryon Healy, perhaps inspired by his uniform number 25, hit a two-run homer reminiscent of those clouts by Mark McGwire in the A’s 5-1 win.
“Most important was to get the split. You win two out of four to open the season and heading out to your first road trip it always makes the flight a little bit more fun but I’m just glad we were able to win a game,” Triggs said.
Healy was a mid-season call up last year just after the All-Star break and hit 13 home runs. He already has a pair the first four games of 2017 and relishes his role as a run producer.
“This team’s a lot of fun and there’s a lot of quality players in this clubhouse,” Healy said. “The amount of contributions we’re going to have up and down our lineup is going to be endless so it’s nice to be able to know the guy in front of you is going to get it done, the guy behind you is also going to get it done.”
The A’s are on a six-game road trip through Texas and Kansas City and return home for a 10-game three team homestand on April 14 as they welcome the Houston Astros and former teammate Josh Reddick.
Ryan Leong is a San Francisco native and covers all Bay Area sports teams as a correspondent for ESPN radio and wire services. He is a former sports anchor for KCBS and has reported on over 3,600 live games since 1998.