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Arizona Diamondbacks: “Stopper” Greinke halts losing streak

By Mark Brown
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Right-hander Zack Greinke picked up his 11th win of the season Friday night.

Not only is Zack Greinke of the Arizona Diamondbacks having a strong come-back season, the right-hander demonstrated an essential dimension of his game on Friday night.

As his team was saddled with a three-game losing streak, and coming off an emotional loss in the final game of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ series this week, Greinke confirmed his value with a stellar effort. In defeating the Cincinnati Reds 6-3 before 27,006 in Chase Field, Greinke provided the critical role of “a stopper,” and put an immediate halt to the Diamondbacks recent losing ways.

With their 33rd win at home this season, the Diamondbacks matched their entire mark for home wins last season. For the 2016 season, Arizona was 33-48.

Despite three on the scoreboard for the Reds, none were attributed to Greinke. Cincinnati managed to slam a pair of ninth inning homers against two relievers, and the final score was less closer than the game would indicate.

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In the end, Greinke clearly supported his reputation as one of the elite starters in the game. While his value to halt a losing streak remains distinct, Greinke’s ability to filter pitches through the strike zone, hit location with pin-point control and command his pitches all remain his signature contribution.

Relative to notion as “a stopper,” Greinke is 5-1 and a 2.70 ERA in seven starts this season following an Arizona loss.

Afterward, manager Torey Lovullo told Venom Strikes that Greinke went out and performed with the weight of the other 24 players on his shoulders. Given the despair and anguish after the Dodgers series, Lovullo thought Greinke clearly had his teammates on his mind. To that end, Greinke disagreed, and told Venom Strikes this game was no different than others.

"“I didn’t feel that way,” he said, and referenced the notion of picking up this teammates. “I didn’t expect the game any other way. In the seventh, I started to get a little frustrated, but I thought I had good fast ball command and the curve was good.”"

Though Greinke went seven innings, his outing could have longer if not for a high pitch count in the seventh. With a manageable count at 81 after six, Greinke seem to labor in the next inning. With two outs, he walked Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler singled to right. Greinke then fanned Jose Peraza to end the frame. In the inning, Greinke threw 25 pitches alone and ran his game total to 107 pitches.

In the bottom of the frame, Chris Herrmann, pinch hitting for Greinke singled, to right and that started a two-run rally.

To complement Greinke’s dazzling effort in this game, the offense jumped Reds’ starter Tim Adleman for a two-spot in the second, a solo tally in the fourth and a Paul Goldschmidt’s 20h homer of the season with one out in the fifth.

Down by six in the ninth and Greinke out of this game, the Reds jumped on relievers T. J. McFarland and Jake Barrett for their only runs of the game. Two came when Joey Votto slammed his 25 homer of the season with one on off McFarland, and Schelber hit his 22nd of the season and NL-leading 15th round-tripper on the road, against Barrett.

Still, the night belonged to Greinke and Lovullo went out his way to emphasize the importance of having a number one and stopper when needed at a most critical time.

"“We had the right guy step up and throw zeros,” he said. “It’s a credit to Zack and the mental toughness he displayed. I saw a pitcher confident in his game plan and superb in his execution.”"

In addition to giving his team a much-needed lift with his arm, Greinke also singled in a run during the fourth inning. That was his first RBI since driving in a run since June 28, 2016 in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Next

The Cincinnati series continues Saturday. That’s when right-hander Taijuan Walker 6-3, 3.30 ERA) faces righty Luis Castillo (0-1, 4.41). In the finale Sunday afternoon, look for lefty Patrick Corbin (6-8, 4.81) to take on right-hander Homer Bailey (102, 12.66).

In his 10-year major league career, Bailey has the distinction of tossing two no-hitters. The first one was on Sept. 28, 2012 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. His second came against the San Francisco Giants at home on July 2, 2013.

"Arizona Diamondbacks: Lovullo discounts loss of recent momentum"

The Diamondbacks then break for the All-Star game, and resume their schedule with a six-game road trip. That includes three in Atlanta and three in Cincinnati. The first home games after the break feature a weekend series of three with the NL East Division-leading Washington Nationals, beginning Friday night July 21, and followed with three against the Atlanta Braves.

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