LOS ANGELES -- Any other pitcher who had endured the month that Zack Greinke had in June would have felt euphoria. To a starving resident of a deserted island, a candy bar isn't a lot, but it is plenty in comparison.
The Dodgers scored four runs in a game Greinke started Saturday, a 4-3 victory over the New York Mets at Dodger Stadium. That sort of output must seem foreign to him, as the team had scored no more than two runs in any of his previous five starts, totaling six runs in those turns. The Dodgers lost three of those games despite Greinke's 0.76 ERA.
“Zack and Clayton [Kershaw] really haven’t gotten runs. They’ve pitched well and haven’t gotten runs,” manager Don Mattingly said. “Over time, yes [players become aware].
“Guys aren’t going out there saying, ‘Hey, Zack is pitching. We don’t have to score today.’ We’re trying to score. It’s got nothing to do with not wanting to. It’s just the way it goes.”
Greinke stretched his scoreless streak to 27⅔ innings by pitching seven shutout frames against the Mets. It bested his previous single-season career high of 24 innings, set as a Kansas City Royal in 2009, the year Greinke won the American League Cy Young Award. That streak was also part of a longer 38-inning streak, dating to the end of 2008. Saturday's effort dropped Greinke’s major league-leading ERA to 1.48, and he has now won consecutive starts for the first time since April 29.
“I don’t really think about it,” Greinke said about the scoreless innings streak. “I had a good one in Kansas City, but I don’t really pay attention to it. I guess I just don’t think about the past, or the future.”
That response elicited laughs from the assembled media, and Greinke himself. In case he happens to forget this latest outing in 24 hours, it was a clinic in working both sides of the plate with a fastball while pitching to weak contact early in counts. He had only four strikeouts, but he did not walk anyone and 10 times Greinke retired hitters in three pitches or less. No Mets runners reached third base against him, and at one point he set down eight consecutive batters. It would have been 13 in a row had Juan Lagares not reached base in the fifth inning on a strikeout after a wild pitch got past catcher Yasmani Grandal.
“Just no mistakes, or very few mistakes,” Greinke said, regarding what has made him so effective in this stretch. “Not every game has everything been extremely sharp, but I never really gave too many pitches to drive.”
Greinke has the game’s best ERA, and he is second behind Washington’s Max Scherzer with a 0.89 WHIP and 115⅓ innings pitched. He also went into Saturday's game leading the league’s starters with a 90 percent strand rate, and he improved that number by stranding four more.
Greinke was asked if he has any desire to be named the National League’s starter for the All-Star Game when that is announced Monday. He predictably said, “No.” He was then promptly reminded that had he said yes, it would mean he is thinking about the future, which he previously stated he did not do.
“Exactly” Greinke said, smiling.