When you have Yasiel Puig, there is really no need to draft a hitter. As the Dodgers were drafting two college pitchers on Thursday night, Puig was busy adding to his legend. The Cuban sensation hit a grand slam in the eighth inning to break open a close game and seal a 5-0 win over the Braves in the opener of a four-game series at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers held a slim 1-0 lead most of the night thanks in large part to Zack Greinke returning to form. He threw a season-high 117 pitches and lasted a season-long seven innings, and kept Atlanta off the board. Greinke struck out seven on the night and allowed seven baserunners, a stark improvement over his previous four starts.
Considering that Thursday marked exactly eight weeks since breaking his collarbone, and eight weeks was the initial diagnosis for recovery, perhaps we can expect Greinke at full strength and closer to his Thursday performance going forward than the one who put up an 8.78 ERA over his previous three starts.
The game was 1-0 into the bottom of the eighth, when they loaded the bases with one out for Puig, who was 1-for-3 on the night. He deposited a slider from Chad Gearrin over the wall in right center field for a grand slam and a victory ensured.
Vin Scully was stunned and after calling the home run was silent for quite a long time, as is his habit during big moments.
"I have learned over the years that there comes a rare and precious moment when there is nothing better than silence," Scully said upon returning his voice to air after letting the crowd's boisterous reaction do the talking.
The Dodgers as a team had hit .152 (7-for-46) with no extra-base hits with the bases loaded before Puig's at-bat.
In four games in the big leagues, Puig has three multi-hit games, a grand slam, a three-run home run, and a two-run home run. The Dodgers have hit just 45 home runs as a team this season, and just 15 of them have come with runners on base, ranking 28th in the majors.
Four of those home runs with runners on base have been hit by Adrian Gonzalez, and three have been hit by Puig, in four games. Nobody else has more than one.
The Dodgers got what looked for a while would be their only run in the second inning. Scott Van Slyke singled, Andre Ethier doubled, then one out later Skip Schumaker did his best Mark Ellis impression with a ground ball to the right side for an RBI and a 1-0 lead.
Schumaker went 1-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, and is hitting .395 (17-for-43) during that span.
Hyun-jin Ryu returns to the mound on Friday night, and will take his nine-inning scoreless inning streak to the mound in the second game of the series. Paul Maholm starts for the Braves.
Home runs: Yasiel Puig (3)
WP - Zack Greinke (3-1): 7 IP, 4 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts
LP - Tim Hudson (4-5): 7 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 5 strikeouts