Greinke opens Dodgers career with a gem
LOS ANGELES -- Pity the Pittsburgh Pirates, among others.
On Friday night, Zack Greinke made his Dodgers debut with a two-hitter for 6 1/3 innings that became a 3-0 win over the Pirates. And on Saturday night, he'll be followed by Clayton Kershaw.
"Facing those guys, it's like a one-two punch," said Matt Kemp, who finally landed a blow himself with an RBI double in the sixth inning, his first hit of the season, which was followed by a double from Adrian Gonzalez, his first RBI of the season.
Andre Ethier gave the Dodgers all the runs they needed with a two-out solo homer in the second inning off left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, making his Pittsburgh debut. Ethier is now 3-for-8 with a homer and two doubles off lefties.
But it was Greinke in the spotlight, striking out six without a walk and retiring 14 straight at one point. He was signed to a six-year, $147 million contract to team with Kershaw and give the Dodgers the type of tandem aces the Giants have used to win two of the last three World Series.
"We feel good about everybody we send out there," said catcher A.J. Ellis. "But it's nice to have two horses to set the tone. We've got 1 and 1A."
Those who recall the franchise's successes when Sandy Koufax teamed with Don Drysdale, or Fernando Valenzuela with Orel Hershiser, can appreciate the possibilities. Ellis isn't surprised that Kershaw, who threw a shutout on Opening Day, or Greinke, seemed to step it up from their Spring Training outings.
"This is just me speculating," Ellis said, "but I think Greinke -- and the same with Kersh -- you give those guys a game plan and a scouting report on how to attack hitters and sequence pitches and get guys out, that's when their stuff really shines through, instead of when they're just getting their work in.
"With Zack, his greatest strength is the ability to command his fastball and not leave anything in the middle of the plate. He really works the edges."
As advertised, Greinke used an assortment of pitches, with a fastball that touched 95 mph but hovered around 91, and he didn't make Ellis reach for many.
"Kind of what we expected," said manager Don Mattingly, who praised Greinke's command of both sides of the plate and "serious touch" on his offspeed pitches.
"My fastball was good, that was most important," said Greinke, who made 92 pitches. "Any time you can locate that, it makes all the other pitches better."
With elbow tenderness of the Spring apparently a thing of the past, Greinke said this start was better than any of his Cactus League outings. The only hiccup appeared to be a change of spikes, which he would not discuss.
Greinke left to a standing ovation after Andrew McCutchen's one-out hit past Greinke in the seventh.
"He's pounding the zone, getting ahead, using his offspeed pitches," McCutchen said. "We were aggressive, were making contact, hitting the ball hard. But he stuck with it, and threw a pretty good game. It's about making adjustments -- and I did. You have to adjust throughout the game, or he'll just continue to do the same thing."
On came Paco Rodriguez. McCutchen was thrown out trying to steal second, then Rodriguez struck out Pedro Alvarez.
Kenley Jansen recovered from a leadoff walk for a scoreless eighth and closer Brandon League pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save of the year.
Ethier said his Spring Training work with new hitting coaches Mark McGwire and John Valentin on how to hit lefties paid off on a pitch just above his waist.
"Obviously I'm doing something different, even though I don't know exactly what it is," he said laughing. "It's a combination of being relaxed and aggressive, looking for something I can hit in a certain zone. And when I get it, so far I'm not making a mistake and missing the pitch.
"I worked hard all spring. I came in and made a point of addressing it, I didn't shy away from it and this is the result."
Kemp's hit was more a relief to those watching than to him.
"Felt good to get a win, and it felt good to get a hit," he said. "I wasn't worried about me getting hits. I was just frustrated because not getting hits I'm not helping the team win. This is a new series, new outcome, we got a win."