There has been plenty of chatter about the Rangers starting pitching over the last couple of weeks, and not a lot of it positive. The four and five spots in the rotation were a sore spot. However on Sunday, A.J. Griffin showed he’s not ready to give up his spot on the starting staff just yet.
Griffin threw five solid innings, allowing only four hits and one run in the Rangers’ 2-1 win over the defending champion Kansas City Royals. Griffin didn’t get the win, but was able to achieve something just as important, a quality start.
The 28-year old righty was win-less in his last five starts with a 6.17 ERA since returning from the disabled list a month ago due to shoulder issues. He had trouble getting through the middle innings, seemingly running out of steam. On Sunday, he looked like a different pitcher, and not just because he shaved.
Control issues that helped cause problems in past starts, possibly due to fatigue, were not a factor against the Royals. Griffin’s day was finished after 89 pitches, but 55 were strikes. The key moment of the game, at least for Griffin, was in the second inning. The Royals had two on after a lead-off walk to Kendrys Morales, who went to third on a double by Alex Gordon. But Griffin has able to get a strikeout, a fielder’s choice and a pop-up to escape the inning unscathed. Other than a solo home run by Morales in the fourth, Griffin was in control.
Griffin was on the road to recovery after having Tommy John surgery in 2014. The Rangers took a flyer on him hoping he could bounce back and be effective. Griffin won the number five spot in the starting rotation during spring training as a non-roster invitee. Despite the struggles after returning from the D.L., the Rangers are 7-4 in his 11 starts.
Griffin is expected to face the Royals again Friday in Arlington. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Globe Life Park.