In the freeway series opener against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Zack Greinke and the Los Angeles Dodgers came out victorious behind a big night from Scott Van Slyke.
The game turned into a back-and-forth even, as both teams were responding with run support, trying to top the crosstown rival. In a bit of a surprise, Greinke was pulled after only six innings pitched, which proves to be the shortest amount he has gone in a start this season.
The Cy Young candidate finished the night with six innings pitched, seven hits allowed, and three earned runs. Luis Avilan, Juan Nicasio and Jim Johnson combined to allow two runs in the seventh, but Chris Hatcher and Kenley Jansen tossed scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth to preserve the victory.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, manager Don Mattingly had a plan to keep Greinke fresh on Monday:
“We weren’t going to push [Greinke] tonight after the last game [114 pitches against the Giants], he threw lot of pitches and battled,” said Mattingly. “You can ask Zack, he wasn’t the typical Zack, not as sharp as he can be. We made that decision not to tax him tonight.”
One of the main reasons management could tell that the All-Star Game starter wasn’t as normally sharp is because of his hits allowed. The last outing Greinke permitted at least seven hits was on June 13 against the San Diego Padres. Now Greinke is a pitcher who is usually very honest with his manager. The Florida native normally converses with Mattingly on how he is feeling and is blunt when it comes to admitting he doesn’t have his usual arsenal of pitches working for him.
When Greinke was asked about the decision to be taken out, he remained calm and understood the thought process behind it:
I was fine with whatever,” he said. “Like Donnie said, I threw a lot last game, the last couple of months I’ve thrown a lot, but I felt a lot better in the sixth. I felt good, I wasn’t pitching real good.”
On the season, the 2014 Gold Glove winner is 16-3, with a 1.68 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 224 ERA+, and 0.86 WHIP. He has won eight of his last nine decisions and is now 2-0 against the Angels on the season. Greinke currently leads the National League in ERA, WHIP, and winning percentage with just under a month left in the regular season.