LOS ANGELES — At first glance, the collective career numbers of St. Louis Cardinals hitters against Zack Greinke don’t look too favorable for the Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander. The Redbirds boast five guys with averages of .300 or better and another small handful of hitters in the high .200s against Greinke.
But keep looking at you’ll see the other numbers – 5-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his last six starts against the Cardinals – and the numbers clearly err on the side of Greinke.
Greinke always manages to make the right pitches when they count the most against St. Louis, always getting key outs. Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, Greinke blanked 10 Cardinals en route to his 10th win of the season, making only one mistake – a solo home run by Matt Carpenter in the third inning – and never really pitching himself into any jams.
He became the first Dodger to win 10 games before the All-Star break since Brad Penny in 2007.
"My offspeed was sharper than last time and my command was good," Greinke said. "We got a lead so I didn’t have to attack the zone. It working so I didn’t have to change or adjust the plan at all."
Greinke was able to benefit from an early 7-0 lead, but he says that he always pitches more effectively and efficiently to the Cardinals at home, rather than in St. Louis.
"In St. Louis, they hit me really hard and somehow I get outs. At home, I just pitch better and have games like today," he said. "In St. Louis, there’s been three or four times where I was very lucky to not give up five or more runs. Part luck."
"You get a lead like that and you know he’s going to keep pitching and keep executing," said manager Don Mattingly. "He was all business after we got a few runs and that made me feel a little better because sometimes you get stuck. To me, a lot of times a team goes flat after a few runs early like that.
"It seemed like everything went our way today."
The Cardinals’ Lance Lynn (8-6) unraveled in the second, allowing six runs on eight hits. Prior to the game, the Cardinals’ righty said he thought he may have been tipping his pitches in recent outings. Lynn was looked at by the trainers in the third after the Dodgers batted around and appeared to have something wrong with a finger on his pitching hand.
"I’m guessing there was something slightly wrong with Lynn because he kept getting checked out," Greinke said. "Every time I’ve seen him pitching, he’s been pretty darn good."
But even after the Cardinals brought in relief for Lynn in the third inning, the Dodgers kept hitting. They later mounted a rally against Eric Fornataro, scoring two more in the bottom of the eighth.
San Francisco is now only 1.5 games ahead of the Dodgers (46-37) in the NL West standings, and the Dodgers have continued to gain ground on their rivals in the month of June, winning six of their last nine. Despite injuries to key players, the Dodgers have continued to make the necessary adjustments to win and put themselves in prime position as the All-Star break draws near.
The Dodgers are expected to make a corresponding roster move as Justin Turner’s hamstring injury appears to have him headed to the disabled list. Don Mattingly joked that the team lost all of their infielders – and an infield coach – over a span of four innings.
"I think within 12 outs we had Hanley (Ramierez)’s calf, J.T.’s hammy and Lorenzo Bundy blew a calf out on the same play as J.T., the third base coach, and I think (Yasiel) Puig may have turned an ankle somewhere in there," he said. "It was a pretty good first 12 outs."
Ramirez is not expected go on the disabled list. The Dodgers have a little more flexibility with Juan Uribe now off the D.L., and this could be an opportunity for infielder Miguel Rojas, who has impressed everyone on the team with his high-energy play.