By Bill Center, The Sports Xchange
SAN DIEGO — Tuesday afternoon’s game at Petco Park was more like the Tale of Two Pitchers.
Right-hander A.J. Griffin of the Texas Rangers was brilliant. The San Diego County native allowed four hits and a walk in the second complete-game shutout of his career. Griffin needed only 104 pitches to navigate nine innings and improve to 4-0 while lowering his ERA to 2.45.
On the flip side, struggling veteran Jered Weaver of the Padres allowed seven runs on six hits in just three innings, serving up his 13th and 14th home runs of the season while falling to 0-4 as his ERA skyrocketed to 6.81.
Naturally, the Rangers won 11-0 behind Griffin and an 11-hit attack paced by multi-run homers from first baseman Ryan Rua (a three-run shot in the five-run first off Weaver), Joey Gallo (a two-run drive off Weaver in the third) and Robinson Chirinos (a two-run homer off reliever Kevin Quackenbush in the seventh).
Seven of the Rangers 11 runs scored on the homers.
But they needed only one of those runs as Griffin retired the Padres in order in six of the nine innings he worked and allowed only two runners to reach second. He opened the game by retiring the first seven Padres he faced. He closed it by retiring the last 10.
Afterward, Griffin admitted he was pumped to be facing the Padres for the first time at home.
“I think any time a player comes home and plays in front of their home crowd it is special and there is some emotion to it,” said Rangers manager Jeff Banister of Griffin, who went to Grossmont High east of San Diego then attended the University of San Diego.
“For him to pitch a complete game, that in itself was special.”
“I haven’t played a baseball game in San Diego in over seven years now,” said Griffin. “It was really cool. I had my parents, family and friends here today.”
“We were listless today offensively and Griffin exposed that weakness,” said Padres manager Andy Green. “He switched speeds very well.”
As for Weaver, his struggles are reaching the breaking point. And the 34-year-old, 12-season veteran knows it.
“If I keep doing what I’m doing, I won’t be here,” said Weaver. “I’m not blind to that, I’ve seen it before. Right now, I’m grinding against myself. I feel good in the bullpen, then I come out and can’t get ahold of my command.
“No one takes it harder than me. It’s right around the corner. I can feel it. But it’s frustrating. I haven’t been keeping my team in games.”
Weaver opened Tuesday’s game by hitting Shin-Soo Choo with a pitch. Elvis Andrus followed with a single ahead of a two-run double by Nomar Mazara — giving Texas a 2-0 lead before Weaver retired a hitter. Mazara advanced to third on a sharp single by Rougned Odor. Both scored on Rua’s second homer of the season.
“He struggled with his command from the first hitter of the game,” Green said of Weaver. “No command. It got away quickly today.”
Odor singled in the third and scored on Gallo’s 11th homer of the season to close the book on Weaver.
Over his last three starts, Weaver has given up 22 runs (17 earned) on 22 hits, four walks and two hit batters in 12 2/3 innings. His earned run average has shot up from 3.91 to 6.81 over those three starts. Plus, the 14 home runs allowed by Weaver is the highest total in the National League.
Chirinos’ fifth homer of the season followed a RBI single by Gallo in the three-run seventh against Quackenbush.
The two teams fly to Texas for the second half of the home-and-home four-game set Wednesday and Thursday.