Zack Greinke's $147 million dollar contract was controversial, but the critics are beginning to get silenced as he returns to Cy-Young form. If the solid 8 2/3 innings weren't enough, Greinke continued to be the best hitting pitcher in baseball, catapulting the Dodgers to an easy 6-2 win over the Cubs.
The month of August couldn't be going better for Greinke, sporting an ERA slightly above one run per contest. Greinke dominated by providing 8 2/3 innings, two runs, nine strikeouts and two walks. The nine strikeouts tied Greinke's season high, while 122 pitches signaled another season high.
From the first inning through the fifth inning, Greinke retired 13 consecutive batters. Third baseman Donnie Murphy broke up the streak with a sharp single up the middle.
Greinke also impacted the game at the plate, per usual. General manager Ned Colletti knew Greinke would provide countless quality starts, but the .340 batting average comes as a pleasant surprise. However, Greinke sports elite athleticism compared to most starting pitchers, breaking off the mound quickly to make tough plays appear routine.
Heading into the fourth frame, the Dodgers already stranded four runners in scoring position. With two outs, A.J. Ellis and Nick Punto drew back-to-back walks. Pitchers rarely get hits, let alone clutch hits, and Greinke proved both stigmas wrong via an RBI single to left center the field.
At the time, Greinke gave the boys in blue a 1-0 lead. In the journalism world, Greinke deserves the one man band label, meaning he provided a little bit of everything.
Famous play-by-play announcer, Vin Scully described Greinke by saying: "Zack, the complete player."
Carl Crawford followed it up by connecting as good as he has all season, which resulted in a RBI ground rule double up against the left field foul pole. In the sixth inning, Crawford reappeared in the box score with a RBI sacrifice fly, making the lead at 4-0.
Arrieta allowed five freebies, granting the Dodgers too many extra opportunities. Nick Punto proved to be an example, knocking in Mark Ellis on a double after the second baseman got walked.
Hanley Ramirez added insult to injury, crushing a no doubt solo home run to deep left field. Yasiel Puig added further insurance by crushing a long ball of his own, putting Los Angeles ahead 6-0.
Prior to the fourth inning, the Cuban native was the sole Dodger with a hit. Puig ended up at 3-for-4 and owns a lethal .643 average against the Cubs.
Greinke appeared to be on track to supply a complete game shutout, yet two walks in eighth clouded those hopes. In spite of the tough situation, Greinke remained unscathed. The problems carried over into the ninth, when Greinke finally made some mistakes.
One out away from the complete game shutout, Brian Bogusevic spoiled Greinke's near perfect effort with a two-RBI double. The Dodgers have now beaten the Cubs five straight times in 2013, and eight consecutive times dating back to 2012.
The rough times for the Cubs may never go away, and facing baseball's best pitcher Clayton Kershaw Tuesday won't help solve the problem. Chicago manager Dale Sveum will send out his ace, the steady and creative Travis Wood.
Home runs: Hanley Ramirez (14), Yasiel Puig (13)
WP - Zack Greinke (13-3): 8 2/3 IP, 5 hits, 2 runs, 9 strikeouts, 2 walks
LP - Jake Arrieta (2-3): 5 IP, 6 hits, 4 runs, 3 strikeouts, 5 walks