When Zack Greinke and Ian Kennedy last faced off, they were the central figures in a memorable brawl that preceded the Los Angeles Dodgers’ remarkable run to the 2013 NL West title.
Now they’re set to meet again as Greinke looks to help the visiting Dodgers bounce back from their first loss Tuesday night against Kennedy and the San Diego Padres.
Last June 11, Kennedy (7-10, 4.91 ERA) was pitching for Arizona when he drilled Yasiel Puig in the face and later Greinke in the back during a 5-3 win for the Dodgers. In between those plunkings, Greinke (15-4, 2.63) hit Miguel Montero in the back.
Before it was over, six players had been ejected and Kennedy was later tagged with a 10-game suspension. Los Angeles (2-1), in last place at the time, went 64-34 the rest of the way en route to its 12th division title.
Almost a month later, the Dodgers made Kennedy pay for his role in the incident by tagging him for six runs on nine hits over 5 2-3 innings of a 6-1 win July 9. The right-hander went 4-2 with a 4.24 ERA in 10 starts overall after he was shipped to San Diego (1-0) at the trade deadline.
"Where he’s at in his career, we’re hoping that a good offseason working with (pitching coach) Darren (Balsley) last year, a couple of minor tweaks in the delivery will help him," manager Bud Black said.
Greinke had his first start delayed after missing roughly two weeks of spring training due to a strained calf. He was held out of the team’s two wins over Arizona in Australia, as well as Sunday’s 3-1 loss in the North American opener in San Diego.
The right-hander allowed two earned runs over six innings in an exhibition outing against the Los Angeles Angels last week.
"Zack felt good about his last outing," manager Don Mattingly told the league’s official website. "He’s a perfectionist, and he’s never quite happy. I look for him to pitch well (Tuesday)."
Greinke will try to build on his outstanding 2013 season, when he finished with the league’s fifth-lowest ERA and won 12 of his last 14 decisions. He also went 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in the playoffs, including a win over St. Louis in Game 5 of the NLCS.
Greinke has certainly enjoyed a run of success against the Padres, going 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 31 innings over five career starts dating to his time with Milwaukee.
Will Venable, Jedd Gyorko, Alexi Amarista and Yonder Alonso have gone a combined 4 for 31 all-time versus Greinke, though Seth Smith is 5 for 11 with three doubles in this matchup since 2011.
Smith hammered a pinch-hit, tying homer to lead off the eighth inning against Brian Wilson on Sunday before Chris Denorfia (2 for 4) singled in two runs in the season-opening victory at Petco Park.
Andre Ethier has gotten off to a 2-for-12 start after going hitless in four at-bats, but he might be able to find a groove since he’s 7 for 16 (.438) with a pair of homers when facing Kennedy the past two seasons.
The Dodgers, who had only four hits Sunday, haven’t gotten much out of the middle of their lineup so far with Puig going 3 for 13, Hanley Ramirez 1 for 11 and Adrian Gonzalez 1 for 9.