Brewers' Greinke efficient despite loss to Phils
It was the question in the back of everyone's mind and on the tip of many tongues as the Milwaukee Brewers' ace pitcher took the mound against Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Was this Zack Greinke's last start in a Brewers uniform?
It's a question that Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said wasn't on his mind before the game.
"I don't think that way," Roenicke said. "I just want him to go out and throw the way that he was."
But he might be the only one who was ignoring the swirling rumors surrounding Citizen's Bank Park on Tuesday night.
With Milwaukee quickly falling out of contention and Greinke named over and over as a top-flight prize in the upcoming trade deadline sweepstakes, the likelihood of that question being a reality continues to grow. And after Tuesday's performance from Greinke, there's no doubt that his value is as high as it could have possibly been going into the trade deadline.
After giving up one run on two hits in the first inning, Greinke shut out the Phillies in the next six innings, showcasing the dominating stuff that originally placed him among the league's top aces. His fastball routinely hit 95 mph, and his breaking ball was able to find the strike zone much more frequently than in his previous outings.
And as effective as Greinke's first few innings were, it was his last few that proved to be most efficient.
The Brewers ace retired 19 of the last 20 batters he faced and did so as efficiently as any Milwaukee pitcher had all season long. Through seven innings, Greinke averaged just 12.43 pitches per inning, totaling 87 pitches in his first outing since being scratched from his last start.
That brief absence, meant to "recharge his batteries", assumedly worried some teams that may have been interested in Greinke, as his health was called into question. But after starting three straight games prior to the Brewers skipping his last start, Greinke proved he's still the same pitcher as he was at the start of the season. And perhaps even better.
To add even more to his outing, Greinke made a number of impressive defensive plays and added a deep home run to left field off of Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee in the seventh inning — the first-ever pitcher-hit home run off of the Philadelphia ace. It was a performance that Roenicke said showed off Greinke as "the total package".
But if it was Greinke's last start, the game's final two innings weren't exactly the parting gift the Brewers wanted to send him away with. Milwaukee's bullpen allowed six runs in the final two innings and raised their base on balls total to 10 in the last two days combined, giving away a sure win for the Brewers ace.
The decision to take him out after the seventh inning — when Greinke had registered only 87 pitches — was a question Roenicke addressed after the game, explaining that Greinke's absence after being overworked would mean keeping his pitch count down.
"I think with Zack, if everything was normal and we were just going through the regular season, we probably would've left him out there," Roenicke said. "We decided that we weren't going to go real deep in the game."
But, on Tuesday, with scouts galore watching from Philadelphia, it was clear that nothing was normal about Zack Greinke's outing, a dominant performance in what could be his last with Milwaukee.
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