Zack Greinke needed a big start to get back on track. He chose no better place to do so than Petco Park on Saturday night.
Returning to the scene of the crime, Greinke pitched eight dominant innings in his first start in San Diego since breaking his collarbone in a brawl this past April. His offense took six innings to get going, but homers by Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez helped get the win, 6-1. The victory was only their fourth in the last 13 games. But hey, you have to start somewhere, right?
The game was quite odd for awhile because the Dodgers had no hits through five innings, yet held a 1-0 lead. With one out in the fifth, Edinson Volquez lost all control by walking Juan Uribe, A.J. Ellis, and Greinke to load the bases. Skip Schumaker hit leadoff and bounced one to second for the sure first double play ball, but was called safe after a head first slide into first.
Was he really safe? Uh, no. But who cares? I'll take it.
Still hitless entering the sixth, old Padre Gonzalez changed all of that. He launched his first homer since June 3 with a solo shot out to center to go up 2-0. He's been slumping lately, so if he can start hitting again to go along with Ramirez, Yasiel Puig, and the returning Matt Kemp, maybe the Dodgers really can score some runs again. Maybe.
Andre Ethier took a walk with one out and Mark Ellis singled. After Ellis stole second, A.J. Ellis grounded an easy one to short that went underneath Pedro Ciriaco's glove, scoring both to make it 4-0. An RBI single by Schumaker soon followed, and it was 5-0.
Ramirez got in on the fun in the seventh, as he absolutely unloaded on a solo shot measured at 434 feet. Considering how high it landed off the building in left, I'm guessing that's a bit short. Anyway, he's been scorching the ball since coming off the DL, which is a great sign.
Greinke's only blemish was giving up an RBI double to Jesus Guzman in the eighth. After getting out the inning, Kenley Jansen finished things off with two strikeouts in the ninth.
There are three reasons why this was a great start for Greinke. One, he personally needed to get some revenge for that idiot Carlos Quentin charging the mound in April. How great was it to see Greinke strike him out in the first? Maybe that moron should worry more about his .256 average and less about people supposedly throwing at him. Why bean someone who can't hit anymore?
Two, the Dodgers dropped a bad one on Friday night, which saw Clayton Kershaw get roughed up. Kershaw has picked up so many guys in the past after bad starts, it's nice to see someone have his back for once.
Lastly, Greinke simply needed to start pitching better. He entered this game with a 5.02 ERA in seven starts since coming off the DL. Not exactly ace-like stuff. The Padres have been playing much better lately, and while there's no way they're a true contender, this was still a big start for him. Four hits, one walk, and eight strikeouts reflect his best line of the season.
The offense still left 10 on base, but did more than just hit singles the whole night. I don't think any of us expected to see two homers in the same game. Yes, that's how futile they've been at the plate this season. Granted, the horrible error by Ciriaco gift wrapped the Dodgers two runs, but they still would have been winning even without that.
Let's see how the Dodgers come out on Sunday. Chris Capuano talked Don Mattingly into making the start on short rest (three days), and he'll be limited to about 75 pitches. So that means we can expect plenty of bullpen action. Oh joy. Maybe the bats can lead the charge.