Cramer caps journey with debut win vs. KC
Lefty earns first big league victory; Cust hits 100th career home run
KANSAS CITY -- Whether he was pitching in Mexico, watching the Angels from the stands during a baseball sabbatical or toiling in the Minor Leagues, Bobby Cramer never gave up hope that he might some day find a "W" next to his name in a Major League box score.
It finally happened for Cramer on Monday.
In his Major League debut, Cramer allowed just four hits and one run through 5 1/3 innings as the A's brushed past the Royals, 3-1, at Kauffman Stadium. Five Oakland relievers chipped in to do their part in making sure that Cramer's debut ended with a victory.
Cramer's only glitch was a fourth-inning homer to straightaway center by Mike Aviles. The A's, who cashed in a couple of early unearned runs, got a bit of breathing room in the sixth on Jack Cust's 100th career home run. Then Cramer retired Jarrod Dyson in a lefty-vs.-lefty matchup to start the Kansas City sixth. Manager Bob Geren went to the bullpen at that juncture and Cramer, who had waited so long to get a Major League win, was forced to wait a little longer from the Oakland bench.
A few nervous innings later, Cramer wore a contented smile in the A's clubhouse. At 30, Cramer was the fourth oldest player in Oakland history to make his Major League debut.
"Everybody knows that I didn't have the easy road," Cramer said. "I've been here and been there. Just getting the call finally was a dream come true, but then to go out, have the game I did and get the win in my first Major League game is unreal."
Cramer walked only one and was able to keep his pitches down for the most part.
"I missed the fat part of the bat on everybody except one," Cramer said.
Cramer's big break this year came after he flourished in the Mexican League, returned to the Oakland organization and had a 1.94 ERA in seven starts for Triple-A Sacramento.
The A's saw enough to give him the opportunity and Cramer took full advantage.
"I'm a control guy and I had it today," Cramer said.
Cramer, who originally signed with Tampa Bay in 2003, didn't play baseball in 2005 and '06. He had season tickets to Angels' games in '06.
"It was tough because I never made that transition to being a fan," Cramer said. "I felt like I was a player who was just taking some time off. I knew I had something more in me."
Cramer's first significant exposure to Triple-A came during his seven starts at Sacramento this year.
"I've just concentrated on getting to the next level and then to the level above that," Cramer said. "Right time, right place is what it's about. Oakland is the right place for me this year."
Cramer's mother, girlfriend and best buddy made the trip to Kansas City for his debut. Geren said that although it's up in the air about when Cramer might start again because of an off-day on Thursday, the lefty will get more opportunities this season.
"He looked very comfortable," Geren said. "He threw strikes and I was very happy about him going that deep into the game and keeping a lead."
Kansas City manager Ned Yost was also taken by Cramer's poise in his Major League debut.
"He didn't look scared," Yost said. "He was on the attack and looked like a guy who has been through it enough to understand he has to be able to do everything well."
The A's benefitted from some sloppy Kansas City defense to give Cramer an early lead. The Royals committed two errors in the first and the second one -- an errant throw from second baseman Aviles -- allowed Coco Crisp to score.
In the second, center fielder Jarrod Dyson misplayed a Cliff Pennington liner to cost Kansas City another run. After the Aviles homer brought the Royals within 2-1 in the fourth, the left-handed-hitting Cust responded to a pronounced defensive shift by taking an outside pitch by reliever Bryan Bullington to the left-field seats.
"You just have to hit the ball where it's pitched," Cust said. "I've hit a lot of homers the other way, but mostly to left-center. Not too many of mine have gone to dead left like that."
The A's managed just four hits, but that turned out to be enough to reward Cramer.
"He has had a long road," Cust said. "We wanted to get a 'W' for the guy. Luckily, we got a couple of breaks early and then I hit the home run. I'm sure this was a day he'll cherish forever."
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.