Breaking down Erick Aybar’s decisive at-bat vs. Zack Greinke in D-backs’ loss
Zack Greinke’s 1 bad pitch: ‘You make a mistake it’s gonna get hit.’ pic.twitter.com/uZSIFvQCPe
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) April 20, 2017
At his best, Zack Greinke’s only mistake ended up costing him Wednesday night.
It’s just one of baseball’s quirks.
Greinke’s Arizona Diamondbacks teammates can take much of the blame by reaching base just five times and going 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position in a 1-0 loss to the San Diego Padres. Yet, it was Greinke’s single mistake that drew the attention after the D-backs fell in the second game of the three-game set.
Greinke’s seven-pitch battle with Padres shortstop Erick Aybar — yes, that man who closed out the 11-2 D-backs win a day prior as a pitcher — ended with a solo home run in the eighth inning that sealed the San Diego win.
“Definitely could’ve made a better pitch right there,” Greinke told FOX Sports Arizona after the game. “(I was) trying to throw, like, a borderline strike. I’d be happier with a ball than an inch or two over the plate. Just a not very good pitch.”
Greinke, who admitted Aybar has hit him well in the past, kept the ball out of the strike zone until that point, but Aybar’s solo shot was a result of taking advantage of the pitcher on a night when his command was otherwise flawless.
Adding to the drama of the single, decisive at-bat was the fifth pitch thrown, a second ball just outside of the strike zone.
While StatCast’s grid showed it well off the plate, MLB Strike Zone — it makes calls based on percentages of how strikes and balls are called, not based on the rulebook — said that only 36-percent of umpires call it as a ball.
Greinke didn’t have a problem with the call. Aybar holding back a swing impressed him, however.
“I said out loud, ‘nice take.’ I can’t believe (Aybar) took it,” Greinke said. “There was a really tempting pitch. I’m surprised he didn’t swing at it. I didn’t think it was a strike at the time.”
The 33-year-old Greinke went eight innings and allowed five hits without letting a runner going further than first base. He had six strikeouts and, ironically considering the result of one mistake, commanded the ball the best he has in his first three starts of 2017, he said.
Through seven frames, Greinke had thrown 76 pitches, which according to FOX Sports Arizona was the fewest he’d thrown through seven innings in his entire MLB career.
The ace finished with 96 pitches, 67 for strikes, and induced seven groundouts and five popouts.