Julio Cortez Associated Press A's starter A.J. Griffin, after fielding a bunt by the Yankees' Brett Gardner, fires to first too late in the eighth inning on Friday.

Leadoff blast sets the tone

Published: Saturday, May. 4, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 5C
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 5, 2013 - 1:50 pm

NEW YORK – The matchups didn't look promising for the A's, but that was before Adam Rosales hit CC Sabathia's first pitch of the game over the left-field wall.

From that point, Oakland starter A.J. Griffin outdueled the Yankees ace in leading the A's to a 2-0 victory in the first of a three-game set in Yankee Stadium. The shutout was the first of the season for the A's and the second time the Yankees had been blanked.

New York came into the game with an 11-5 record at home, tied with Boston for the best in the American League, and the A's carried the burden of five losses in their last six road games.

More than that, Sabathia owned a 6-1 record in his last 11 starts against the A's.

In none of those games, however, was Rosales the leadoff hitter. He had never hit leadoff in the big leagues until pushed into that spot by the hamstring injury that has sidelined Coco Crisp.

"I'm just trying to fill in,'' Rosales said before the game. "Obviously no one can replace Coco.''

Maybe not, but when Sabathia tried to start Rosales out with a strike, the shortstop blasted it far beyond the left-field wall for an immediate 1-0 lead. Oakland added a run in the sixth on a Derek Norris RBI single, then let Griffin lead the way for the rest of it.

The 25-year-old right-hander retired seven of the first eight men he faced, then wormed out of trouble in the third, fifth and seventh when New York managed to get men into scoring position.

By offering his fastball at 90-91 mph, counterpunching with a 65-66-mph curve and throwing strikes throughout, Griffin gave the Yankee hitters little chance to get their timing right.

In the third, Vernon Wells popped out with men on second and third. With a man on second and one out in the fifth, Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano both lined out. And after Jayson Nix doubled with two out in the seventh, Griffin came back to strike out pinch hitter Brennan Boesch.

Notes – Outfielder Chris Young did some running in the outfield before the game and could be ready to play this weekend. He hasn't played since suffering a left quadriceps injury Monday.

• Seth Smith struck out four times in five at-bats, after four strikeouts in five at-bats Wednesday. He only struck out four times in a game once all last year.

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