D-backs right-hander Zack Greinke was so good with so much of his arsenal in a 13-strikeout, 6-1 victory over the Rockies on Sunday that those involved had a hard time choosing just one. For catcher Jeff Mathis, it was Greinke's slider.
"The slider [was] better than it's been in a little while," said Mathis, who has caught all of Greinke's 21 starts.
"It hasn't been quite where he has wanted it the first half. It's a credit to the work he has been putting in, trying to figure it out, trying to get it to the point it was last year. I think we are getting close. It's a little bit deeper, a little bit sharper. It's getting to where he kind of was last year."
FanGraphs identified the slider and changeup as Greinke's two most effective pitches in 2017, when he was 17-7 with a 3.20 ERA. The changeup and curveball have graded out to be his most effective so far this season.
For Colorado manager Bud Black, it was the curveball that Greinke drops in from 65 mph to 71 mph.
"In a lot of ways, you see Zack fastball-slider-change, but the curveball really came into play today -- the slow curveball. He did a great job of mixing pitches," Black said after the Rockies' seven-game win streak came to an end.
Greinke had four strikeouts on the curve, four on his slider, three on his fastball and two on the slider. He threw 13 curves. Nine were strikes, and only two were put in play, both harmless outs.
The final delivery in his 111-pitch outing was a 68-mph curve that caught pinch-hitter Raimel Tapia looking to end the eighth inning, the first time Greinke had gone eight innings this season.
"The results have been as good as you could hope for this year," Greinke said about his curve.
"It's going to stop working I think any time now, I think, but as of now it is still working. It was good in 2004 and then it was bad in 2005. After people saw it, it stopped working. There is some confidence in it, because the results have been good. Try not to overexpose it."
Supported by a two-run triple by Nick Ahmed and a two-run single by Mathis, Geinke improved to 11-5 and won his sixth straight decision. He has given up only five runs in his last 39 2/3 innings, good for a 1.14 ERA. His season ERA is 3.05, the lowest it has been since his second start of the season.
Ian Desmond broke up Greinke's no-hit bid with an opposite-field homer with one out in the fifth inning, and Trevor Story had the Rockies' only other hit off him, a single with two outs in the seventh inning.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The D-backs scored their first three runs after twice starting rallies with two outs and no runners on base. A.J. Pollock and Steven Souza Jr. had back-to-back doubles with two outs in the first inning, and Ahmed tripled in two runs in fourth after Jake Lamb walked and Daniel Descalso singled with two outs. Both hit sliders from Colorado starter Antonio Senzatela.
Ketel Marte started a double play on a Gerardo Parra grounder that was given a 56 percent probably of being a hit. Ahmed then made a diving stop and throw to retire Nolan Arenado for the last out of the game on a ball that was judged to have a 58 percent of being a hit.
CLAY ON THE WAY Right-hander Clay Buchholz will join the rotation for a start Tuesday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field after missing about a month with a strained oblique. He will be pitching on regular rest after giving up two runs and striking out six in six innings in a rehab start for Class A-Advanced Visalia on Thursday.
"Maybe it was for the best to make sure everything was out of there," Buchholz said of his four weeks on the disabled list.
HE SAID IT "It seems liked Nolan Arenado had that coming because he has stolen so many base hits from us." -- Lovullo, after Ahmed made a diving stop to his left and got up to throw out the Rockies' Gold Glove-winning third baseman at first base to end the game
UP NEXT The D-backs will send left-hander Patrick Corbin (6-4, 3.24 ERA) to the mound on Monday at 5:05 p.m. MT in the first game of a four-game series at Wrigley Field. Corbin has a 2.45 ERA over his last five starts and is among the NL leaders in ERA (3.24) and strikeouts (149). The Cubs will counter with Luke Farrell (3-3, 3.86).
Jack Magruder is a contributor to MLB.com based in Phoenix.