PHOENIX — The warm Arizona evening inside of Chase Field was almost as perfect as Zack Greinke’s outing against the White Sox – just a few after he almost was indeed perfect on the mound statistically.
Continuing his dominance at home, Greinke was masterful in pitching 8.2 innings as the Diamondbacks defeated the Chicago White Sox 5-1 in the first of a three-game Interleague series. Just 11 days prior, Greinke took a no-hitter into the eighth inning at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing just one hit in his eight innings pitched.
Though he allowed four hits in this start, Greinke struck out a season-high 12 batters tonight against Chicago. He is now 5-0 at home with a 2.49 ERA.
“Everything was pretty good,” said Greinke, who now leads the National League in wins with six. “I guess what made it good was that everything was working for the most part. They hit my curveball pretty good when I threw it but it felt good coming out of my fingers.”
Greinke had somewhat of a remedy for the White Sox hitting his curveball to begin the ninth inning, as he struck out Yolmer Sánchez on a 65 mile-per-hour eephus pitch. Greinke says that, despite the pitch’s uniqueness, that’s something that had been in his arsenal and had worked on fairly regularly.
“I used to throw it all the time but hitters started hitting it really good,” Greinke said. “I worked on it a little bit this year but have thrown it only once a game on average, maybe twice. As long as it’s not too often, I guess it works a little bit better.”
Everything was working for Grienke, outside of a curveball that Leury García hit to deep right field for a home run with one out for the fifth to account for the White Sox’s only run.
“I feel really good about each time he steps on the mound,” said Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo. But not good enough to let Greinke complete what he started tonight. With two outs in the ninth and Arizona up 5-1, White Sox first baseman José Abreu hit a double down the left-field line. That was Greinke’s 104th pitch, which proved to be his last as Lovullo came out of the dugout to summon Archie Bradley to the mound to get the final out.
Lovullo’s decision, more than anything, was made with the division and pennant race in mind, even if the fans in the stands wanted to see the complete game.
“Sometimes, you have to sit in the seat and not make popular decisions,” Lovullo said about his decision to take out Greinke and hearing boos from the Chase Field crowd after doing so. “I made a deal with Zack. We talked about it after the eighth. We both had a clear understanding of what was to happen, and I wanted to carry through with that part of the deal. Archie was ready to pick Zack up. If it’s August, it might be a different story. But, for right now, at this point in time in the season, it’s May. We got to remember that and we got to be built to understand that everybody has to stay healthy and be healthy for the rest of the year.”
And what was that deal that the manager made to you after the eighth inning, Zack?
“Torey told me that I had to get everyone out [in the ninth], and I didn’t,” said Greinke. “So I kind of knew it was coming.”
All of the offense Greinke would need in the game came in the fourth inning when second baseman Daniel Descalso, batting under .200 coming into the game, launched a three-run homer to give Arizona a 3-0 lead.
“Offensively, the big three-run home run by Daniel was a big boost for us,” said Lovullo. “We were a little flat after yesterday’s outing where we didn’t have that much offense, so the home run gave us a chance to play some downhill baseball.”
Paul Goldschmidt added his team-leading 11th home run off of White Sox starter Miguel González to lead off the sixth inning for a 4-0 Arizona lead.