NEW YORK -- The guitar playing and singing in three languages by A.J. Griffin that took place in the clubhouse before the A's 2-0 victory over C.C. Sabathia and the New York Yankees, that's pretty tame.
"That's the G-rated version," Griffin's Triple-A roommate Sean Doolittle said after the two pitchers combined for 26 of the 27 Yankee outs Friday night. "He's tamed it down now."
"There used to be dancing involved," Doolittle said. "Lots of dancing. It got his blood flowing."
Griffin's singing and guitar playing (but no dancing) might not be tolerated in many clubhouses, but his Oakland teammates seem ready to take him for what he is.
"I think it's great," shortstop Adam Rosales said. It was Rosales' first-pitch home run off Sabathia that set the tone as the A's went wire-to-wire for their first nine-inning shutout of the season. "It's what helps him stay loose. And it helps us relax."
Griffin was compact and concise on the mound, needing just 98 pitches to throw seven-plus innings. He hit the corners with his fastball at 90-91 mph, threw his curveball at the bottom of the strike zone at 65-66 mph and mixed in the occasional slider.
The Yankees never got their rhythm, not even after Brett Gardner tried to break up Griffin's concentration with a bunt single to lead off the eighth down two runs. It did get Griffin out of the game, to be sure, but Doolittle faced four batters, got five outs including a double play grounder, then let Grant Balfour close it out.
"I'm in the right organization," Griffin said. "The reins are pretty loose here. And they let me run with it."
As Doolittle said, "I'm pretty sure it wouldn't fly any place else."
Griffin has been playing the guitar for 13 years, or a little more than half of the 25-year-old's life. He says "it's a work in progress," but fellow guitar player John Jaso says Griffin has some game, both with the guitar and as a singer.
The right-hander was singing in English, Spanish and French, and at one point manager Bob Melvin thought his starting pitcher was serenading center fielder Yoenis Cespedes, who hung close by for the first part of Griffin's set.
Most starting pitchers go into their own little world before the game with notebooks and iPads and headphones, but Griffin isn't most pitchers.
And most pitchers don't throw shutout baseball against the Yankees in the Bronx.
"A.J. pitched great," Melvin said. "He comes in here and throws seven innings with no runs. That's what A.J.'s about. You could see the confidence growing as he went along. He had his fastball going to spots, had a nice curve and mixed in some sliders.
"He does his thing."
Asked when he flips the switch and becomes serious, Griffin started to say when he gets to the dugout but admitted, "I'm joking around in the dugout, too. The only place when I'm serious is when I'm on the mound."
This is Griffin's first full season in the big leagues. Pitchers with so little experience don't usually get the kind of freedom he has, and Griffin both knows it and cherishes it.
"I don't want anyone to think I don't care," he said. "But in the minor leagues, every time I'd get called up to a new level it was 1ike 'what's up with this guy?' I like to be light-hearted and relaxed and ready to pitch."
In the third, Vernon Wells popped out with men on second and third. With a man on second and one out in the fifth, Gardner and Robinson Cano both lined out. And after Jayson Nix doubled with two out in the seventh, Griffin struck out pinch-hitter Brennan Boesch.
"I expect good starts from him all the time," Melvin said.
Pretty soon everyone will.