Zack Greinke’s scoreless streak is impressive, but can he save some of that for the fall?

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first_imgThe Dodgers know what happens when they don’t get the ball to Zack Greinke.In 2013 they were down 3-2 to St. Louis in the National League Championship Series. It was Clayton Kershaw’s turn. Greinke was ready for Game 7, ominous news to the Cardinals, whom he handled smoothly in Game 5.But, thanks to an unforeseen meltdown by Kershaw, Greinke’s next game was in April 2014.In 2014 they were down 2-1 in a five-game Division Series to the Cardinals, and Kershaw threw Game 4 at Busch Stadium. Again, Greinke had the hammer in his hand for Game 5, which would be at Dodger Stadium. That scenario was golfed into the right-field seats by Matt “Big City” Adams, and again Greinke had to turn in a batter’s chart with no more batters to face. Clearly Kershaw suffered two anomalies, if that’s possible. But we also know that at this very moment, Greinke would be given full access to the postseason baseball.On Friday, Greinke attempts to extend his 43 2/3 innings scoreless streak, which has become a Dodgers specialty. He has not given up a run since Justin Upton of the Padres hit an eighth-inning, game-winning home run on June 13. Ahead of him are Don Drysdale (58 in 1968) and Orel Hershiser (59 in 1988).It’s fashionable to dismiss such streaks as laden with luck, which of course they are. You have to dodge broken-bat hits, errors, and all of baseball’s weird geometry. Drysdale lost his streak when the Phillies’ Howie Bedell lofted a sacrifice fly. It was the third of Bedell’s three career RBIs.But a long streak also means very few fastball mistakes, excellent command and uncanny performance with runners in scoring position Hershier faced 29 hitters in RISP situations in the streak and retired them all.Besides, let’s quit outsmarting ourselves. There are no shortcuts that get you through a month without a run. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img Some will tarnish Greinke’s streak, in comparison, because he hasn’t gone nine innings yet. Drysdale and Hershiser pitched complete games throughout.But Greinke has been stringing zeroes all year. Drysdale’s ERA plunged from 2.52 to 1.31 during his run. Greinke’s high ERA this year is 1.97, and it was at 1.95 when his streak began. It is 1.30 now.If anything, this will enlighten people about Greinke’s pitching, if not his well-guarded personality. Those who know him well swear by him.“Don’t ask him anything unless you really want the answer,” said Art Stewart, the longtime Kansas City superscout. “He’s not going to tell you something just because you want to hear it, but I like that.”The Royals took Greinke sixth in the 2002 draft, one pick ahead of Prince Fielder, their second choice. Three of the players ahead of Greinke were pitchers who never made the big leagues. The other two are the disappointing B.J. Upton, now with his third franchise, and pitcher Adam Loewen of the Orioles.Along the way, Greinke showed an amazing memory, an independent streak, and an affinity for player evaluation. He was not moonlighting, either. He’s been in the draft rooms for Kansas City and the Dodgers, and he spends spring training nights at college and high school ballparks.“I was scouting Kyle Gibson from Missouri (now with the Twins) at a tournament one day in Arizona and Zack shows up,” Stewart said. “I said, what are you doing here? He told me he might want to do this after he retires. I said, well, it’ll be a pay cut.”During the free agency process, the Dodgers front office prepared for its first meeting with Greinke. Normally there’s a healthy squadron of agents, lawyers and assorted greenflies accompanying the player. This time it was Greinke and no one else. He chatted with the executives for three hours.“He sees the big picture,” said Ned Colletti, the general manager at the time. “He wants to know everything in the organization, what direction it’s headed. On the mound he’s a lot like Greg Maddux, which sounds crazy because nobody should be compared to him. But he pays the same kind of attention to everything the hitter does. He files it away and uses it the same way.”In Greinke’s 2 1/2 years with the Dodgers, he has an outstanding WHIP of 1.054.He has an opt-out clause in his contract this winter, which might explain why the Dodgers are scrambling to add another frontline starter before July 31. One can assume that he will not leave Dodger Stadium with another useless baseball in his pocket.GREINKE’S STREAKJune 18: vs. Rangers, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 8 K, Dodgers won 1-0June 23: at Cubs, 6 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 5 K, Dodgers lost 1-0June 28: at Marlins, 7 2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 K, Dodgers won 2-0July 4: vs. Mets, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 4 K, Dodgers won 4-3July 9: vs. Phillies, 8 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 8 K, Dodgers won 6-0June 19: at Nationals, 8 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 11 K, Dodgers won 5-0CONSECUTIVE SCORELESS INNINGS PITCHEDOrel Hershiser 59Don Drysdale 58Walter Johnson 55 2/3Jack Coombs 53Bob Gibson 47Carl Hubbell 45 1/3Cy Young 45Doc White 45Sal Maglie 45R.A. Dickey 44 2/3Ed Reulbach 44Zack Greinke 43 2/3Rube Waddell 43 2/3Rube Foster 42Brandon Webb 42Clayton Kershaw 41 2/3THREE FACTS1. Zack Greinke ranks 14th among active pitchers in winning percentage. Clayton Kershaw is first.2. Greinke had a 39-inning scoreless streak that began late in the 2008 season and stretched into 2009, for Kansas City.3. Opponents are hitting .131 off Greinke during his current streak.last_img

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