When the Arizona Diamondbacks signed Zack Greinke to a record six-year, $206.5 million contract, it was in large part to have an ace for marquee playoff games. Greinke stumbled in the National League Wild Card Game, but was in position to rebound against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After the Diamondbacks dropped the first two games of the NL Division Series, their backs were up against the wall but had comfort in returning to Chase Field with Greinke on the mound. That optimism quickly went by the wayside, as he was at 29 pitches through the first inning, and 54 after the first two frames.
Dodgers batters offered at few — if any — of Greinke’s pitches out of the zone, and he was forced to a three-ball count by five of the first eight hitters. To his credit, Greinke limited the Dodgers to just one run through four innings. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third.
But Cody Bellinger hit a solo home run with two outs in the fifth inning, Austin Barnes led off the sixth with a line-drive homer that knocked Greinke out of the game.
Following the elimination loss, he credited the Dodgers for a sound approach, and prasied Bellinger and Barnes for hitting home runs on pitches he hoped were put in play, via MLB.com:
“I got through the first four innings, I think it was, not throwing a lot of strikes, and then I started executing a lot better the last two innings. But both those guys hit home runs on kind of pitches I wanted them to hit. They were not swinging at balls, so I threw a quality pitch, and they hit it. There’s not much I could really do about it. I thought we played pretty good, but they played really good. Didn’t make many mistakes over there.”
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo explained postgame that Barnes was the final batter Greinke was due to face, regardless of the result of the at-bat. “I could tell by the body language that things were going good,” Lovullo said. “We just wanted one more batter.
“He was our ace all year long, and I felt like he deserved that opportunity, once I saw the stuff start to get a little crisper in there and there was a little swing and miss with the slider.”
In his two postseason starts this year, Greinke went 0-1 with a 7.27 ERA and allowed opponents to bat .286/.390/.514. He walked seven, struck out five and surrendered two home runs in just 8.2 innings pitched.