The D-backs ace held the Yankees to just one run over 7 2/3 innings as Arizona snapped its two-game losing streak with a 3-1 win.
Maybe even more importantly for the D-backs, Greinke (5-1) gave the bullpen a desperately needed rest after it was relied on to throw 10 2/3 innings in the team’s previous game -- a 6-5 loss to the Cubs on Sunday afternoon.
“I think he might have flipped the script a little bit and threw some sliders early,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “They may not have game planned for that. Then [he] started to go to the three-pitch mix later in the game, the third time through, and just kept everybody off balance.”
The change in his normal approach came when Greinke sat down with catcher John Ryan Murphy before the game to plan how they would attack the Yankees.
“When we were going over the scouting report .. it was just getting confusing with the scouting report,” Greinke said. “And I just talked to Murph and I was like, ‘Hey, let’s just stay mainly fastball/slider and see how it goes and go from there.’ That was kind of how that happened.”
Greinke received plenty of support from second baseman Wilmer Flores, who hit his first home run of the year in the second inning to give the D-backs a 1-0 lead and then drove home another run in the fourth with a single.
Flores is now 5-for-7 in his career against Sabathia.
“I don’t really think about it when I go up there,” Flores said of his success against the veteran lefty. “I just look at his last outing and see what he’s doing and trying to do to hitters. I make that adjustment. I don’t really think about what I did to him in the past. He’s definitely going to be a Hall of Famer.”
It has been a rough start to the year for Flores. Signed as a free agent during the offseason, he came into the game hitting just .224, so being able to contribute to a win was big for him.
“It feels good,” he said. “I haven’t had the results that I wanted to. My approach is there. I feel like nothing has changed. It was just a matter of time.”
History came for Sabathia in the second inning when he struck out Murphy for his third strikeout of the game and 3,000th of his career. Sabathia became the 17th pitcher in history to record 3,000, and he is just the third left-hander, joining former D-back Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton.
It marked the second time in his career that Murphy, who was selected by New York in the second round of the 2009 Draft, had played a role in a historic Yankees event. He was behind the plate in 2013 when Mariano Rivera pitched in his final game.
“The first one was pretty special,” Murphy said. “Being there for that was something I’ll always have in the memory bank. Tonight was the same, but in a little different sense. It just speaks to the pitcher that he is. I just saw that Carlton and Randy Johnson were the only other lefties to do it. That speaks for itself. To do what he’s been able to do the last few years after not having the velocity like he had and a couple of knee injuries that he had, it speaks to the kind of guy he is and the competitor he is. That’s a lot of strikeouts.”