After one start, Zack Greinke's $147 million contract looks like money well spent.
The Pirates had no answers for Greinke for six-plus innings, and the big three of Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Adrian Gonzalez drove in the runs as the Dodgers got the win, 3-0. They're now back to .500 at 2-2 on the season.
We've all seen the Dodgers' struggles offensively in the Giants series, as they only managed seven runs in three games against their strong pitching staff. They went down in order in the first, but with two outs in the second, Ethier took a high fastball out to right for the 1-0 lead.
Neither team could get much of anything going at the plate through five innings. The Dodgers may have scored another if Carl Crawford could count balls and strikes. He took off for second with A.J. Ellis at the plate in the fourth, but must have thought it was ball four instead of ball three, as he started to trot and was easily tagged out. Um, Carl, the Dodgers installed new million dollar video boards this offseason. You might want to take a peak at one of those to see the count. I'm just sayin'.
Anyway, the Dodgers got the rest of their runs in the sixth. It started on a walk to Mark Ellis. Kemp hadn't had a hit to this point, and Pedro Alvarez made sure it stayed that way with a diving stop to rob him in the fourth. In this inning, however, Kemp plated Ellis with an RBI double to make it 2-0. Gonzalez followed up with his own RBI double, and it was 3-0.
Greinke pitched into the seventh and was pulled after Andrew McCutchen's one-out single. Paco Rodriguez came in and was fantastic. Well, it helped that McCutchen was thrown out trying to steal second on the first pitch. Alvarez looked silly flailing away helplessly on breaking balls for the last out.
The formula for the victory was then put into play of Kenley Jansen in the eighth and Brandon League in the ninth. Jansen walked old friend Russell Martin leading off, but got the next three in order with two strikeouts. League got his first save with a flawless ninth, striking out Neil Walker to end it.
This win is more what the Dodgers expect to see. Like the Giants have shown, it's big-time pitching with clutch hitting along the way. The offense was just abysmal last game with their 1-for-14 performance with runners in scoring position. This game they went 2-for-5, with one of the hits actually coming from Greinke. Like Kershaw, I guess he can do it all.
Greinke was simply fantastic in shutting down the Pirates. He lasted 6 1/3 innings for two hits, no runs, no walks, and six strikeouts. I wouldn't say he was overpowering, as his fastball was mostly around 88-92 MPH. But, his late movement on that pitch along with his breaking stuff was nearly unhittable. His location was strong as well, hence a dominating night.
The early results show the 1-2 punch of Kershaw and Greinke can be a lot of fun to watch this year. They've tossed a combined 15 1/3 innings of one-run ball, striking out 13 and walking no one. Wow, that's pretty darn good. They haven't faced the greatest offenses in the world, but shutting down any MLB team like that is hard (well, maybe not the Astros, but you get the point). I think it's safe to say that Greinke's elbow is doing just fine.
Justin Sellers got was back at short after the debacle on Wednesday. He went hitless again (to the surprise of nobody). But, it should be noted that he made a great diving stop on a grounder in the fifth, robbing Garrett Jones. Even if he stays hitless, which looks entirely possible over the course of the entire season, I'll still take him over watching Juan Uribe stink it up at third. Hey, Hanley, how's the thumb?
Final Four Saturday night will see Kershaw looking for his second win. I vote he just pitches a shutout and homers in every start. That's not asking too much, right? A.J. Burnett will go for the Pirates.