Greinke's efficient start goes awry in the sixth

September 15th, 2021

ARLINGTON -- After more than two weeks on the injured list due to a positive COVID-19 test, Zack Greinke picked up right where he left off -- unfortunately, for the Astros.

On Tuesday at Globe Life Field, the same mound where he last pitched on Aug. 29, Greinke again dropped a decision to the last-place Rangers, tossing five-plus innings in an 8-1 defeat. He got knocked around the last time out at Texas, too.

After allowing a pair of two-run homers to Nathaniel Lowe and Adolis García in the first and third innings, Greinke settled in to retire the next eight batters. However, the veteran righty ran aground in the sixth, giving up four runs without retiring a batter, culminating with a three-run homer by DJ Peters. Greinke seemed to think he wouldn’t pitch a third time through the Rangers’ order, but manager Dusty Baker said he sent Greinke back out because his pitch count was still low and he needed to help save an overworked bullpen.

“I felt pretty good, planned on going two times through the order and felt good and for some reason, I went farther and then did bad after that,” Greinke said. “It got worse probably in the fifth inning, and then a lot worse in the last inning.”

After he allowed six earned runs on nine hits in his previous outing against Texas, Greinke surrendered seven earned runs (eight total) on five hits Tuesday. A first-inning walk and a third-inning error also proved costly, as both of those runners scored on the homers. Still, Greinke allowed only two hits, the Lowe and Garcia homers, through the first four innings.

“He threw the ball well,” Baker said. “He located his fastball well, he had good velocity on it, he just made two mistakes and they didn’t miss it. On the fastball that got up and out over the plate to Peters, he didn’t miss that one either. I hated to leave [Greinke] out there that long, but we needed the innings, and we were trying to take him to 80 pitches.”

Until the sixth, Greinke was efficient, needing only 61 pitches to get through his first five innings. But his final frame went awry in a hurry, as he allowed a double, a walk, a single and Peters’ homer, consecutively, to end his night.

Greinke has tied a career high with 28 homers allowed this season, but he’s done it in five fewer starts than he did in 2018.

Offense vanishes after outburst
After scoring 15 runs in Monday’s series-opening victory, the Astros offense wasn't nearly as productive Tuesday against Rangers starter Jordan Lyles, who threw seven shutout innings despite having allowed nine earned runs in 10 1/3 innings in two previous starts against the Astros this season.

“It’s not rare that that happens,” Baker said of the feast-and-famine turnaround. “People say, ‘Save it for tomorrow,’ but you’ve got to get them while you can. I’ve seen it 1,000 times, you score a bunch of runs one night and then the next guy comes and the guy shuts you down. ... I wish I could have an answer for you and figure it out, I’d be a billionaire if I could do that.”

Siri shakes off scare
Rookie Jose Siri made history on Monday as the first player in recorded history to post multiple homers and at least five RBIs in his first MLB start, but he got a ruder welcome Tuesday from Lyles. The Rangers starter struck Siri out in their first meeting, then uncorked a 93-mph fastball that hit Siri squarely on the left wrist in the fifth.

Lyles slumped on his follow-through, seemingly upset for losing Siri after going up 1-2 in the count, while Siri winced and hopped in pain before Baker came out to check on him. After a lengthy delay, Siri stayed in the game -- then stole second base and took third on a wild pitch.