Zack Greinke finds his form in D-backs’ penultimate tuneup game
PHOENIX — Zack Greinke’s timeline to make his 2018 regular season debut hit a snag when the Diamondbacks ace tweaked his groin on March 14.
Twelve days later and three days before Arizona opens the regular season against the Colorado Rockies, Greinke looked as ready to go as ever, needing 6.0 innings Monday to hit his target of 75 pitches thrown.
“He controlled the entire environment tonight,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said after a 7-0 Arizona exhibition win over the Cleveland Indians at Chase Field. “Fastballs on both sides of the plate, downhill. Secondary stuff he went and he got anytime he wanted.
“It was a typical Zack outing. Based on what I saw today, stuff-wise, fundamentally, he shouldn’t be looking any further than five days from now unless there is some sort of setback with his health.”
Greinke threw 55 strikes, allowing just one hit while striking out four and issuing no walks. His fastballs regularly registered between 88-89 mph.
Barring a setback, Greinke will next throw a bullpen before he lines up to start Saturday, the finale of a three-game set against the Colorado Rockies. Lefties Patrick Corbin and Robbie Ray are scheduled to start Arizona’s first two games of the year.
On Monday, Greinke said everything was clicking — other than losing a little steam in the sixth frame.
“It was definitely the best outing of the spring. Felt as good as I’ve felt all spring. Results were as good as they’ve been all spring,” Greinke said. “Pretty good day.
“I wish this one counted.”
The right-hander didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, when Cleveland’s Rajai Davis grounded a ball under the glove of a diving Jake Lamb. Greinke might have gotten out of the frame on a double-play opportunity with the next batter. Lamb got Davis out while covering second but lost the ball on the exchange from glove to hand attempting the throw to first on a Jason Kipnis single — that was ruled fielder’s choice.
The hit against Greinke was all the Indians’ offense could muster against the starter and the D-backs’ top trio of relievers. Archie Bradley, Brad Boxberger and Yoshihisa Hirano equally split the last 3.0 innings with one walk, no hits allowed and four strikeouts.
“The Boxberger-Hirano-Bradley combination in the backend of the game looked very impressive today,” Lovullo said, adding he will announce which roles each will take on Tuesday before Arizona’s final preseason game.
NEW FEATURES DEBUT
Cross off the first of two new baseball-related features at Chase Field: The use of the bullpen cart and the new humidor.
It was none other than reliever Archie Bradley who was first to roll out of the pen in the team’s new golf cart, the only of its kind in the majors.
Prior to the game, Lovullo said the D-backs were still taking stock of which pitchers wanted to use the cart. None would be forced to use it to enter games this year, but all three relief pitchers who played Monday did.
— FOX Sports Arizona (@FOXSPORTSAZ) March 27, 2018
As for the humidor, it didn’t dampen Arizona’s offense.
Lamb hit a solo shot to right field in the second inning, and Paul Goldschmidt followed with a left-field home run to kick-start a five-run fourth. Lamb doubled in the bottom of the fifth for another RBI, giving the Diamondbacks a 7-0 lead.
“I was wondering if (the humidor) was why some of those balls were popups instead of doubles,” Greinke said. “I haven’t really pitched enough this year to get a good feel for it, so I didn’t really know (if the humidor affected the balls off the bats). Sometimes when the roof and the windows are open, any flyball feels like a home run here.”
– Arizona put up six of its runs in 4.0 frames against righty Carlos Carrasco, who went 18-6 with a 3.29 ERA last season.
– Diamondbacks leadoff man David Peralta was a late scratch as the medical team decided to give him one more day of rest for a left thumb injury.
– Arizona’s regulars will play an at-bat or two on Tuesday before Lovullo will begin subbing in the final exhibition game against Cleveland, Lovullo said.
– Lovullo urged caution in making assumptions about the bullpen use in the Monday and Tuesday exhibitions against the Indians. He said the bullpen decisions were simply designed to give pitchers reps. For what it’s worth, Greinke was followed, in order, by Bradley, Boxberger and Hirano.
– A crowd of 16,392 fans took in the first game of Chase Field this year.