The Oakland Athletics went back to tried and true on Saturday night, riding their pitching to a 3-0 shutout of the Boston Red Sox in front of a sellout crowd at the O.Co Coliseum.
It definitely wasn’t easy for starter A.J. Griffin, who allowed runners on scoring position in the third, fourth, and sixth, but did not give up a run. He retired the side in order in the seventh and eighth, and departed after 110 pitches.
Griffin showed tremendous poise all night, scattering six hits and walking just one batter in eight innings of work, striking out three as well.
His toughest hurdle was the sixth inning, when David Ortiz reached first on an error by second baseman Grant Green. With two out, Daniel Nava singled to put runners on first and third, but Griffin induced a flyout off the bat of Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
On the other side, Red Sox starter Jon Lester was solid as well with a quality start. However, he allowed single runs each inning from the fifth to the seventh, and that made the difference.
The A’s struck first in the fifth inning, when on an 0-2 count with two out, Derek Norris launched a solo homer over the left field scoreboard. They added another run in the sixth, on a one-out rally that began with a Jed Lowrie walk, then back-to-back singles by Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes that scored Lowrie.
The scoring continued in the seventh. After the first two batters reached to lead off the inning, Lester was removed in favor of Junichi Tazawa, who was promptly greeted with an RBI single to right field by Coco Crisp to give the A’s a 3-0 advantage.
Grant Balfour finished off the ninth inning, setting up a Sunday matinee that will determine the winner of this series between two of the best teams in baseball.