Griffin: 'When you're executing, good things happen'
A.J. Griffin threw eight innings of shutout ball at the Red Sox in the A's 3-0 victory. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
OAKLAND -- The last time A.J. Griffin faced Boston?
The Red Sox banged him up, down and all around Fenway Park to the tune of nine runs, seven earned, and eight hits in just four innings on April 22.
So catcher Derek Norris arrived at the Coliseum a tad early Saturday, plopped in front of a video monitor and went to work. Norris saw a disturbing pattern from that start in Boston.
"When you got in trouble," Norris told Griffin in a pregame meeting, "you missed location."
Sounds easy enough, right? Norris was correct, though, as Griffin's control was on point this time around, especially late, and he threw eight innings of shutout ball at the Red Sox in the A's 3-0 victory.
The Red Sox entered the day with the top slugging percentage in the American League (.447) and having scored the most runs (496). They were effectively neutered by Griffin.
"That's a good lineup over there and I was just trying to execute pitches," said Griffin, who gave up six hits while walking one and striking out three in a career high-tying 110 pitches, 74 strikes.
"Derek is a good at studying other hitters that we're facing; he's got a good book on them. So, it's easy to throw to a guy like that. He puts the signs down and you're like, 'All right, I'll try to throw this ball as well as possible.'
"He was throwing down signs and I was just trying to throw it where his glove was."
Early, though, the Red Sox were close to rattling Griffin. They had runners on in each of the first six innings. Still, Griffin stranded seven Boston runners.
Then he had 1-2-3 innings in the seventh and eighth and Griffin ended up retiring the last seven hitters he faced.
"He really made some in-game adjustments and his command was all-of-a-sudden there," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "It starts with his fastball, his curveball always plays into it."
Griffin acknowledged feeling some pressure. But he could not let on. Not to the Red Sox lineup.
"I just try to act like No. 40 (in) situations like that," Griffin said of the veteran of the A's staff. "Just not show (nerves), if they've got me in a situation where they have the upper hand, I just try to stay calm. And that's something that I've learned from watching Bartolo (Colon) pitch."
Still, entering the eighth, Melvin said he was ready to go get Griffin and replace him with lefty Sean Doolittle to face the left-handed hitting David Ortiz if either Shane Victorino or Dustin Pedroia had reached base.
No need. Griffin plowed through the heart of the Red Sox lineup by getting Victorino to pop out to third, Pedroia to ground out to short on a circus play by Jed Lowrie and Ortiz to ground out to second in the shift.
"He goes about his business and he's not afraid to face anyone," closer Grant Balfour said of Griffin. "He just challenges hitters and he throws his stuff up there. He mixes and matches his stuff…keeping them off balance.
"He doesn't try to miss the bat and you've got to commend him for that. He's not afraid to challenge anyone, any lineup."
Griffin, who improved to 8-6 on the year, is now 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in his last five starts.
"You just try to keep them off the board as long as you can," Griffin said, "try to minimize those things."