There was Greinke’s bend-but-don’t-break style. There was his calm demeanor when others might have cracked. And there was his grit, finishing off the seventh inning despite pushing himself to 119 pitches, 12 more than his previous season high.
That the Dodgers managed two runs off Greinke with the dysfunctional state of their offense seemed like an achievement. Ultimately, Greinke’s effort was enough to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks in the direction of a 3-2 victory.
The Dodgers have now lost three consecutive one-run games for the first time since September 6-8, 2013, when they pulled off the dubious feat at Cincinnati.
The Dodgers jumped on Greinke for a first-inning run thanks to Corey Seager's single and Justin Turner's double off the wall. Greinke was not rattled. Seager tied the score 2-2 in the fifth inning with a mammoth home run to right-center. Greinke barely blinked.
It was exactly how Grienke posted a 51-15 record in three years with the Dodgers (the best winning percentage over that stretch). Also, over the previous three seasons, Greinke had a combined 2.30 ERA (second-best in baseball), opponents had a combined .601 OPS (third) and a 1.03 WHIP (fourth).
“It was probably a little more [fun] than normal,” Greinke said. “But I’ve played on several teams, so I’m used to facing former teams. That really wasn’t much. But the fans were pretty loud today, so that made it more so of an intense game.”
Over his seven innings of work, Greinke gave up two runs on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts. The Dodgers had their chances but failed to cash them in, a theme that has been running for a while now.
The Dodgers were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position, left 10 runners on base and had what could have been a Turner home run robbed at the left-field wall by Peter O'Brien in the fifth inning. In the sixth, Scott Van Slyke had an RBI taken away when Jean Segura made a running catch in shallow center field.
And that doesn’t account for the eighth inning, when the Dodgers loaded the bases only to see Enrique Hernandez strike out against Brad Ziegler and Howie Kendrick hit a looper to shallow center that Michael Bourn corralled with a diving catch.
Manager Dave Roberts tried looking past the Dodgers' missed opportunities and saw a club that had its chances against a tough starter, only to fall short.
“This one, within itself, was a well-played game,” Roberts said. “We left 10 guys on base but we saw the best of Zack Greinke, and obviously he wanted to show well against his former team. We competed for nine innings, so that was good to see. A couple of plays they made, a couple of hits that would have fallen, it would have been a different game. I applaud our guys or the way they competed tonight.”
Lackluster this past weekend in losing two of three at San Francisco, the Dodgers tried to be aggressive against Greinke. The ambush nearly worked. They had to know that Greinke has seen all of the tricks.
“The first couple innings, the first time through the order they were swinging a lot early,” Greinke said. “And they were taking the pitches I wanted them to swing at. The first couple innings was a combination of me not pitching real good and them taking quality at-bats. The last three innings I thought I pitched better -- besides the home-run pitch to Seager.”
The 435-foot blast was not only Seager’s 15th home run this season; it cleared the swimming pool and goes down as the youngster’s longest home run so far in his brief career. All Greinke did was marvel at the trajectory and get right back to work.
“I don’t think you’re really going to catch him off guard like that,” Seager said. “He’s going to come out, do exactly what he did and compete the whole game. He’s going to do what he needs to do to get through seven innings like he did. That’s the kind of pitcher he is.”
With his pitch count climbing higher in the seventh inning, Greinke was paid a visit by his manager, Chip Hale. The conversation was brief, and Hale returned to the dugout. This was a game that Greinke wanted, and he wasn’t going to be stopped from throwing a few more pitches.
“It’s more than normal, but it’s nothing crazy,” Greinke said. “It just kind of happened the way that inning turned out. Sometimes it happens.”
Roberts did his best to put a positive spin on it, but three consecutive defeats to division opponents are not what the 33-32 Dodgers need at this point.
“As we sit here, we’ve lost three straight to division opponents and that makes it tougher certainly, but I think the intent tonight from our offense was what I like to see,” Roberts said. “If we can maintain that, we’d be much better.”