SAN FRANCISCO -- They're both tall, they have similar repertoires, they are both from San Diego, and they both took the mound on Friday at AT&T Park. One of the only differences between A's starting pitcher A.J. Griffin and Giants starting pitcher Barry Zito is their dexterity.
"I've heard that I have a Zito-esque curveball," Griffin said. "But I throw it from the wrong side."
On this night at AT&T Park, Zito out-dueled Griffin as the Giants beat the A's 3-1. Zito allowed one run in five and one-third innings. Griffin allowed two runs in five innings.
"I thought he was terrific," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Command was good all night, spotted his fastball, good curveball, threw a few change ups, I thought he threw the ball really well."
In the second to last exhibition game for the A's, and the final tune up of the preseason for Griffin, his objective was to get out healthy, get in his work, and have fun. He accomplished all of those things as he struck out six Giants batters.
"The change up was awesome, it was working really well," Griffin said. "I made a big adjustment from earlier in spring training by getting it down and getting some good swing and misses on it."
Griffin implemented a technique he learned from his pitching coach at University of San Diego, Eric Valenzuela. Instead of looking at Norris' glove, he started looking at the catcher's feet when throwing. That simple adjustment worked wonders.
"If you were out there throwing bad he would just scream out of the dugout 'change your visual,'" Griffin said of his college coach. "I just tried to take one out of his book tonight."
Griffin finished the spring with a 5.40 ERA. He, like the rest of the A's pitching staff, was thrilled to be pitching in the Bay Area away from the desert where the ball carries really well. He had allowed four home runs in four games in the Cactus League prior to Friday night.
"It's good to get out of Arizona, AKA the moon for me," Griffin said. "I gave up a lot of home runs there, but it's good to get into another atmosphere."
Heck, even talks like he's from 'Planet Zito.'