Programming note: Tune in to SportsNet Central's A's October Quest tonight at 5:30pm on Comcast SportsNet California leading up to today's ALDS Game 4 in Oakland!
OAKLAND -- Last year at this time A.J. Griffin was fresh off competing in the Single-A playoffs with the Stockton Ports. With his baseball season finished he was probably honing in on employment at the Nike Running store in the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, where he worked at during the offseason. Instead of preparing his resume to sell shoes, Griffin is preparing to pitch in the biggest game of his life. A win-or-go-home game against the Detroit Tigers in the American League Division Series. It's hard to say that selling shoes or pitching in the Minor League playoffs qualify as postseason experience. "The California League and the Major Leagues are pretty comparable," Griffin said with a laugh. "I'm just kidding. Yeah, it's still 6090, just try to go out there and try to pitch to the best of your ability."I didn't have a press conference this time last year or nothing," he added. It has been a heck of a ride for Griffin. He wasn't even on the A's radar this spring. At one point Bob Melvin even admitted he hadn't even heard of him when the A's opened up camp in Phoenix, Arizona this year. And why should Melvin have known who he was? Griffin didn't even make the A's Spring Training roster. Still, here's Griffin, ready to take the mound at the Oakland Coliseum in Game Four of the ALDS, speaking to the assembled media in his own press conference. Cool, calm, collected, and even cracking jokes. "I feel really confident still," Griffin said. "Just going out there -- I love to compete. I love to play baseball. I love to pitch. I get to do that in front of millions of people." The El Cajon, California native started the season in Double-A. He made his first start with Oakland on June 24, taking Brandon McCarthy's spot in the starting rotation, and went an Oakland record 6-0 in his first 10 starts. He finished the season 7-1 with a 3.06 ERA. His only loss came at the hands of the Detroit Tigers. "It's a clean slate now, it's the postseason," Griffin said. "I'm 0 and 0. I haven't pitched yet. I'm just looking forward to going out there and contributing."
RELATED: A.J. Griffin 2012 game logs
Griffin's loss to the Tigers was part of a skid the rookie pitcher has been on to end the season. He has a 7.27 ERA over his last four starts. The Tigers scored five runs against Griffin in four and two-thirds innings in their last meeting in Detroit. A's manager Bob Melvin believes Griffin's struggles are anything but physical. "What we try to stress with him is focus on the good things that have happened, not the couple of tough starts you've had," Melvin said. "You've accomplished a lot up to this point and pitched a lot of really good games and know that your team feels very good about you on the mound." Griffin, 24, will be the third rookie to take the mound in this postseason series against Detroit. Like the A's pitchers before him in the ALDS he is trying to treat this start no differently than his previous regular season outings."We'll go out there tonight and just play baseball like we've been doing all year," Griffin said. "Just try to soak up the moment and just have the best moment we can and hopefully try to go out there and shock some people." Max Scherzer:While it isn't as dramatic of a come back as Brett Anderson's on Tuesday night, Max
Scherzer will take the mound against the A's after experiencing issues in his right throwing shoulder and right ankle. Scherzer, 28, left his September 18 start against the A's after just two innings pitched. "I needed more rest and that's what we gave it," Scherzer said of his shoulder.Scherzer finished second in Major League Baseball in strikeouts with 231, only behind Justin Verlander who had 239. He threw four scoreless innings against the Royals on October 3, and deemed himself ready for the playoffs. He had a 16-7 record and a 3.74 ERA for the Tigers and could be a dangerous adversary for the A's. He was held to 75 pitches last Wednesday against Kansas City but doesn't think he'll have any limitations. "The way I've recovered over the past 10 days has been really good," Scherzer said. "That start in Kansas City, I was able to go out there pain free, let it fly, and it felt good."RELATED: Max Scherzer 2012 game logs
He averaged 94.2 MPH on his fastball this season. Keep an eye on his velocity during his start on Wednesday. When he left his previous start against the A's he wasn't hitting the mid 90s like he usually does. Scherzer averaged 11.08 strikeouts-per-nine innings this season, and the A's hitters set a Major League strikeout record, so this could be a bad match up for Oakland. On paper the pitching match up should favor Scherzer over Griffin. If the Tigers' pitcher is 100 percent, that is. The A's will have the home field advantage, and the x-factor of the crazy crowd on their side. If the A's can find a way to take Game Four to even up the series then the A's will push the series to a critical Game Five. "We're not going to quit until the last out is recorded and it's been that way most of the year," Griffin said. "And we're just going out there and playing some competitive baseball."