At 6-0, Griffin is making a name for himself

September 13, 2012, 6:24 am
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ANAHEIM -- The nameplate above A.J. Griffin's clubhouse stall in Anaheim is handwritten. The rest are printed. Turns out his name was spelled wrong. An innocent mistake, but it tells a certain story. Griffin wasn't even in Spring Training in Arizona. Manager Bob Melvin admitted he hadn't heard of him as the team began preparations for their 2012 campaign. After going an Oakland-era best 6-0 to start his Major League career it is safe to say everyone will soon know Griffin's name. "He's on my radar now put it that way," Melvin said. "Billy Beane and the front office have done a great job targeting these guys when they are ready to come up and perform." Griffin, a native of Southern California, was at his best against the Angels on Wednesday. With family and friends in attendance he tossed a career-best eight shutout innings on six hits, struck out eight batters and walked none."I had pretty good command of all four of my pitches tonight and I just tried to go after guys and get ahead and put them in leverage situations for me," Griffin said.According to A's baseball information manager Mike Selleck, Griffin is now the only Major League pitcher to since at least 1918 to allow three-or-fewer runs and walk two-or-fewer batters in each of his first 11 career starts. "I just try to detach from that kind of stuff and just go out there and pitch wherever they tell me to pitch," Griffin said. "It's been working out so far and I don't think I'll try and change it right now."The A's have asked him to pitch in Single-A, Double-A, Triple-A, and the Major Leagues this season. He has excelled at all levels. "He's off to a decent start put it that way," Melvin said. "We've seen a lot of good games out of him but against that lineup here at this place that's probably as good as we've seen him." Like any smart pitcher Griffin knows he can't do it without a little help from his friends. Coco Crisp was probably his best friend on Wednesday. Crisp threw out Chris Iannetta as he tried to advance from first to third on a single in the third inning, and made a spectacular highlight reel diving catch to again rob Iannetta in the fifth frame. "I was watching him go after and it and I was like, 'He's kind of closing on this ball. Oh my God I can't believe he caught it,'" Griffin said. "That's pretty impressive. That's one of the best catches I've ever had behind me and I really appreciate it."The rookie pitcher was quick to credit his teammates for his success. A little run support went a long way. The A's took an early lead after Josh Reddick hit a double in the first inning and scored when Erick Aybar made an error on a grounder hit by Cespedes. In the sixth inning Cespedes hit a ball that nobody could get a glove on, crushing his 18th home run of the season. On Tuesday Cespedes snapped a 21-game home run drought. Now he has two in as many days. "Guys are going to go through streaks. I think the oddity is we are used to seeing him drive balls all the time," Melvin said. The A's added some insurance runs in the eighth inning when Josh Donaldson and Derek Norris both hit doubles. Crisp then stepped to the plate and swatted a single to right field driving in Norris to make it a 4-0 game. The Angels only run came on a home run hit by Albert Pujols in the ninth inning off Sean Doolittle. Pujols' homer was his 30th this season, making him first player in MLB history to hit 30 or more homers in his first 12 seasons. The A's are also setting records though. Oakland has now won 12 road games in a row. That ties an Oakland-era record set in 1971. The road success has the A's surging and they are now a season-high 22 games over .500. "Certainly you want to try to build on each win for momentum," Melvin said. "We started it by playing in some tough venues and winning on the road and there's an energy we have on the road now."Clearly it is working. If this keeps up the A's will be well on their way to being a bunch of household names.

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