After splitting the first two games with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Philadelphia Phillies, owners of the worst record in baseball this season, faced the daunting task of going up against Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke on back-to-back nights.
All Kershaw did was throw a complete-game shutout, striking out 13 without issuing a walk. The Phillies did manage eight hits off the reigning National League MVP and three-time Cy Young Award winner; they had a ninth man reach on a hit by pitch. Greinke followed by throwing eight shutout innings, collecting eight strikeouts along the way while walking none.
Where Greinke improved on Kershaw’s effort was in hits as the Phillies managed just one Thursday night — Ryan Howard’s leadoff base hit in the second inning that beat the Dodgers’ shift. After facing two of baseball’s best, Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin gave the performance edge to Greinke, according to Joe Resnick of the Associated Press:
“It was all Greinke,” Philadelphia interim manager Pete Mackanin said. “He was more impressive than the guy last night. Our guys competed, but it’s tough when you face a guy like that.”
Greinke didn’t overpower the Phillies as much as Kershaw did, who leads the Majors with 160 strikeouts heading into play Friday. The right-hander instead mixed and matched his pitches, getting 12 of 24 outs on the ground. Factoring in Greinke’s eight strikeouts, the Phillies were only retired in the air five times.
While the 31 year old dazzled his way through another start, his scoreless streak nearly came to an end in the sixth inning when Cameron Rupp drove a pitch deep down the left field line, only for it to hook foul. Rupp struck out swinging one pitch later.
Greinke’s effort moved him to 8-2 on the season with an MLB-best 1.39 ERA and 248 ERA+. He also finished the first half of the 2015 season with a 2.77 FIP and 0.84 WHIP.
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