Arizona Diamondbacks – Greinke hit hard in Dodger Stadium

Zack Greinke (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
Zack Greinke (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports) /

Starting pitcher Zack Grienke of the Arizona Diamondbacks turned in one of his worst performances of the season

LOS ANGELES – When the Arizona Diamondbacks signed pitcher Zack Greinke last December, the organization envisioned several meaningful games in September from the right-hander.

As intended, decision-makers wanted Greinke to represent the core and centerpiece of the Diamondbacks’ thrust into the National League West Division race. To have Greinke pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers in September represented the pinnacle of the team’s quest for post-season play.

That’s exactly what happened Monday night. Indeed, Greinke did go against the Dodgers in a game at Dodger Stadium, but this was far from meaningful. This was certainly not meaningful for Greinke, not meaningful for the organization, and not significant in any way.

Perhaps if this game was more worthy, Greinke’s true ability could been showcased. Instead, the $206 million man turned in one of the worst performances of his stellar major league career. To that end, Greinke surrendered nine hits, five were home runs, and the Los Angeles Dodgers cruised to a 10-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks before a Labor Day crowd of 41,820 in Dodger Stadium.

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The L. A. victory, coupled with the Giants loss to the Rockies Monday, created a four game lead for the Dodgers in the National League West race. The Dodgers have 24 games remaining in the season.

From his first game in Sedona Red on April 4, Greinke was venerable to the home run ball. This game against his former teammates merely exacerbated an issue which plagued Greinke, and indeed, the entire pitching staff all season. The penchant for giving up homers and walking hitters, time after dreadful time, struck a similar chord.

“His location was not there,” said manager Chip Hale of Greinke’s performance. “His execution was good early, but the homers were a result of location. Zack did not have his fastball command.”

With a major league-average fast ball rarely topping 91 miles per hour, Greinke relies on secondary pitches, and challenges hitters to go after his breaking pitches down and in to a left-handed hitter and down and away to a right-handed hitter. For the season, Greinke has been plagued by poor pitch command and elevated pitches, and hitters have jumped on everything which he missed.

In the season opener, the Rockies’ Trevor Story tagged Greinke for a pair of bombs, and Greinke yielded three homers in that one. During his first start of the season, Greinke surrendered seven runs in dropping a decision to Colorado. The five homers given up by Greinke to the Dodgers was a career-worst, and 21 bombs surrendered is three behind Patrick Corbin, the club leader. Ironically, Greinke came into the Dodgers’ game without giving up a homer in his last three contests.

“I felt good, and made good pitches in the fourth,” Greinke said. “Not sure if Chip saw it that way, but it looked like they had a good plan. I’m not giving away their plan, but they executed.”

At first, Greinke nearly matched Dodgers’ starter Kenta Maeda at every pitch. Both pitchers brought their best game, and this one was scoreless into the fourth.

That’s when Greinke gave up the first of his five bombs. This time, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez jumped on a high fast ball with one runner on second, and drilled to the pitch in the right field stands. That broke the deadlock and from there, Corey Seager (three-run homer) and Justin Turner slammed back-to-backers in the same frame. Later in the inning, Yasmani Grandal unloaded his 24th of the season, and the ball was hit so hard and so quick that all three Arizona outfielders did not move.

To make matters worse for the Diamondbacks, Maeda was in cruise control. After Jean Segura lead off the game with a single, Maeda retired the next 18 consecutive hitters, and eventually improved his season mark to 14-8. With the defeat, Greinke fell to 12-5, and now sports an uncharacteristic 4.54 ERA for his 23 starts this season.

On deck

The series with L. A. continues Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium. Right-hander Shelby Miller (2-10, 6.81 ERA), coming off a strong start in San Francisco, goes for the Arizona Diamondbacks against Dodger righty Ross Stripling (3-6, 4.25).  In the finale Wednesday night, look for lefty Robbie Ray (7-12, 4,46) to oppose rookie right-hander Brock Stewart (0-2, 7.94).

Next: Escobar, Delgado step up their game

The Arizona Diamondbacks then return to Chase Field for a 10-game home stand. This features three with the Giants, three with the Rockies and four with the Dodgers.