Zack Greinke entered August last year having allowed 24 runs. To better that, he'll need to establish an MLB record scoreless-inning streak a few times over or take a lengthy vacation.
A good starting point for the pipe-dream feat, however, might be against woeful Atlanta Friday night as Arizona opens a three-game series at Turner Field. It's just that the Diamondbacks are starting to emulate the Braves' struggles.
Greinke (2-2, 5.50 ERA) is a run shy of matching the 24 runs he allowed over 146 1/3 innings of his first 21 starts last season. It's come in six starts and 37 2/3 innings, including two and eight hits in seven innings of Saturday's 5-2 home loss to Colorado.
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It wasn't 2015 Greinke, but it far surpassed much of his April with his new club and resulted in a no-decision after a third-inning Trevor Story double scored the first run before the rookie came around to score.
“I felt like I've thrown pretty good ever since the first game of the season,” Greinke told MLB's official website. “And this one was pretty good. I made a hanging slider to Story. That was a really bad pitch. I gave up a run on that and he ended up scoring, too. Two runs because of a bad pitch.”
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 2.53 ERA in five starts against the Braves. He's 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in two starts at Turner Field, but he hasn't pitched there since 2011. Drew Stubbs (11 for 28), A.J. Pierzynski (21 for 54) and Erick Aybar (10 for 28) have all hit him well, but Freddie Freeman is 1 for 12.
The NL Cy Young runner-up is facing Aaron Blair as the 23-year-old makes his third career start. Blair (0-1, 3.18) suffered a loss in his first but showed plenty of promise in last Friday's 6-1 loss at the Chicago Cubs. The right-hander gave up a run and two hits in six innings.
“I started throwing off-speed for strikes, keeping them off balance,” Blair said. “Even when I didn't make the perfect pitch they were still hitting the ball right at guys.”
The Braves have scored two runs in his 11 1/3 innings of work, which comes as no surprise. Atlanta (7-20) fell 8-0 at the New York Mets on Wednesday and has scored nine runs over a 2-3 span dating to Blair's last start. The Braves are batting .198 in that time. Daniel Castro is 2 for 30 in his last nine, Adonis Garcia is 4 for 28 in seven, Jeff Francoeur is 1 for 16 in six and Tyler Flowers is 0 for 13 in five.
Nick Markakis missed the game because of a family emergency, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said the veteran is expected to play Friday.
The Diamondbacks (12-18) head to Atlanta having dropped six straight after Thursday's 4-0 loss in Miami. On the skid, they've scored 12 runs and posted a 6.18 ERA with the bullpen accounting for much of the damage – 16 runs in 20 innings of work.
The offense at least got Jean Segura back in the lineup after he missed three games with a sore hip. The second baseman was 2 for 4, but Paul Goldschmidt was 0 for 4 and is 4 for 23 in his last seven games.
The Diamondbacks last won a series in Atlanta in 2007, going 7-18 since.