After an uncertain spring training filed with missed starts, elbow inflammation, a trip to Los Angeles and a platelet-rich plasma injection, Zack Greinke gave the Dodgers no reasons to worry in his regular season debut on Friday night in a 3-0 victory over the Pirates before 40,607 at Dodger Stadium.
Greinke, despite being limited after never throwing more than 81 pitches in any one outing during the spring, pitched into the seventh inning and allowed just two singles. He retired 19 of the 21 batters he faced, including 14 straight at one point.
The only thing the Dodgers might have been worried about was whether or not an official scorer's call would have cost the team a no-hitter. Noted Dodgers killer Garrett Jones scalded a ball to Mark Ellis in the second inning, a play the second baseman normally makes. But the ball scooted past Ellis into the outfield and was scored a hit. That was the only safety for Pittsburgh until Andre McCutchen singled with one out in the seventh inning.
McCutchen was the last batter for Greinke, who left to a standing ovation.
As a National League pitcher, Greinke has made 24 home starts. He is 16-0 with a 2.81 ERA in those starts with 187 strikeouts and 34 walks in 154 innings. His teams (the Brewers and Dodgers) are 23-1 in those games, and in the only loss Greinke had 11 strikeouts in eight shutout innings.
The Dodgers backed Greinke with production from the middle of their order, with run-scoring hits from Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Adrian Gonzalez. Ethier hit a solo home run off Jonathan Sanchez, his third extra-base hit in seven at-bats against left-handed pitchers this season.
Kemp and Gonzalez added back-to-back RBI doubles in the sixth inning to give Greinke a rather sizable cushion.
- Greinke's outing gave the Dodgers four quality starts in their first four games, something they hadn't done since 1972.
- Paco Rodriguez followed Greinke on the mound and was greeted by A.J. Ellis throwing out McCutchen trying to steal second base. Rodriguez struck out Pedro Alvarez on three pitches and on the season has the distinction of facing four batters, yet recording five outs.
- Ted Lilly threw 76 pitches in six innings in a minor league rehab assignment game for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday night. He allowed five runs on nine hits, including three home runs, and five strikeouts.
- The Dodgers have now beaten the Pirates seven straight times at Dodger Stadium, and have won 15 of their last 17 and 29 of their last 36 meetings in Los Angeles.
- Pirates starter Jonathan Sanchez, who walked 53 in 64⅔ innings in 2012, only had one walk on the night, something he only did once in 15 starts last season.
Home runs: Andre Ethier (1)
WP - Zack Greinke (1-0): 6⅓ innings, 2 hits, 6 strikeouts
LP - Jonathan Sanchez (0-1): 5+ innings, 6 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
Sv - Brandon League (1): 1 IP, 1 strikeout