The longest shutout streak in 27 years was put on hold as Zack Greinke attended the birth of his first child.
Now, he’s back and looking to dominate the New York Mets for the second time this month in the finale of this four-game series Sunday.
Greinke (9-2, 1.30 ERA) enters this game having thrown 43 2-3 consecutive scoreless innings, the longest such streak since Orel Hershiser set the major league record of 59 with the Dodgers (56-43) in 1988. Only Don Drysdale (58 in 1968) and Bob Gibson (47 in 1968) have had longer streaks during the post-1960 expansion era.
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"I don’t think about it at all. I’m just not making a bunch of mistakes and making good pitches," said Greinke, whose ERA is the lowest in the majors since Gibson finished with a 1.12 mark in 1968, known as "The Year of the Pitcher."
The right-hander has had plenty to think about lately, as his scheduled start was pushed back two days so he could be with his wife for the birth of their son – Bode Nicholas Greinke – in Los Angeles.
Greinke’s chances of extending his streak should bode well despite the layoff. The fourth of his six consecutive scoreless outings came against the Mets (50-48) on July 4, when he scattered four hits in seven innings of a 4-3 victory to improve to 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his last four starts against them.
Additionally, Greinke is 8-1 with a 1.73 ERA in 13 starts when getting six or more days of rest over the past four years. The three-time All-Star has allowed one run with 15 strikeouts in 14 innings in two such starts in 2015, winning his only decision last Sunday – 5-0 at Washington.
Greinke had a season-high 11 strikeouts in eight innings, giving him 42 against four walks to go with a 0.53 WHIP during this run. As opposed to Hershiser, Drysdale and Gibson – who all had at least five complete games during their streaks – Greinke has not tossed more than eight innings in any outing and threw a season-high 119 pitches versus the Nationals.
Though the Mets are tied with San Diego for the lowest average in the majors at .236, they erupted for their best offensive showing in five years Saturday, pounding out 21 hits with four homers in a 15-2 win.
"This is one of those nights where everything went right for us," manager Terry Collins said. "You’re going to have them once in a while and you need them."
Highly touted prospect Michael Conforto went 4 for 4 with an RBI. He was 0 for 3 and drove in a run on a fielder’s choice in his major league debut in Friday’s 7-2 defeat.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis also had four hits and matched his season high with four RBIs, while Kelly Johnson added a solo homer and a single in his Mets debut after being acquired in a trade from Atlanta a day earlier.
Johnson and Nieuwenhuis are a combined 0 for 9 against Greinke.
Jacob deGrom (10-6, 2.18) will try to upstage Greinke again. The right-hander struck out the side on 10 pitches in the All-Star game July 14 after Greinke served up a leadoff homer to Mike Trout.
DeGrom followed that by allowing two runs and three hits with eight strikeouts in six innings of Tuesday’s 7-2 win at Washington. He’s 7-2 with a 1.50 ERA and 9.58 strikeouts per nine innings over his last 11 starts.
He struggled in losing both meetings with the Dodgers last year, allowing eight runs and four homers in 12 innings.
DeGrom has limited Jimmy Rollins to one hit in six at-bats, but the shortstop is 5 for 9 in this series – connecting for a solo homer in each of the first three games.
He’s 16 for 38 (.421) with six homers in his last 11 games at New York.
Adrian Gonzalez is 3 for 6 with two homers off deGrom. He singled Saturday after a stiff neck sidelined him for one game, but he’s 15 for 35 (.429) with four homers in his last nine contests.