Dodgers beat Arizona, 4-1, even as Zack Greinke sits with calf injury
On Saturday, Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke appeared in the office of Manager Don Mattingly with concerning news.
In his start the day before, he’d felt discomfort in his right calf. It was nothing too severe, Greinke believed, and the pair hoped it would resolve by his next start on Wednesday.
Then Wednesday came, and it was not resolved. Greinke, one of the front-runners for the Cy Young Award, was scratched just as the Dodgers had begun to loosen their stranglehold on the National League West race.
“The timing’s not great,” Mattingly said. “But what do you do?”
Without Greinke against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday, the Dodgers’ patchwork pitching held firm, and “the Philly boys,” as Mattingly called Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, sparked the winning rally in the eighth inning. The Dodgers won 4-1.
The Dodgers’ magic number shrank to five with 11 games left, as the San Francisco Giants lost, 5-4, to the San Diego Padres. And now the Dodgers will wait to see how Greinke heals.
“It’s pretty minor,” Greinke said. “It’s just a little sore and tight, and just taking precautions.”
Greinke said he “should be” able to make his next scheduled start, against the Giants on Monday.
“We feel pretty confident that he’ll be ready for that,” Mattingly said.
Greinke first felt tightness against the Pittsburgh Pirates, when he went seven innings and gave up two runs. He struck out three batters.
He declined to say how the injury limited him. He did not say if it affected his ability to generate power while pushing off.
In spring training of 2014, a right calf strain hampered Greinke for two weeks. Since then, he said, he has occasionally dealt with tightness in the same muscle, but he said the current discomfort is not as bad as the injury in 2014. Mattingly described the skipped start as an abundance of caution.
“For the most part, it doesn’t feel very serious,” Mattingly said. “But at this point we were like, we’re not going to take any chances with him.”
On Tuesday, after the Dodgers’ fourth straight loss, Mattingly said he was comforted by seeing Greinke’s name in the lineup for the following day. Instead, Mattingly was forced to use right-hander Carlos Frias, who had pitched just once, two innings and 25 pitches on Sunday, since being recalled to the big leagues.
Frias said he was told simply, “Get ready to pitch tomorrow.” He said he approached the game as if it were a long relief start.
The embattled Dodgers’ bullpen is 12th in the National League in earned-run average, but, together, it did a convincing imitation of a Greinke start.
Frias pitched an efficient four innings. He used just 43 pitches and gave up one hit, a leadoff home run by Paul Goldschmidt in the second inning. Four relievers combined for five scoreless innings to seal the game.
“Those guys did a tremendous job,” Mattingly said.
The Dodgers’ biggest obstacle was not the pitching, but once again, the hitting. During their four-game losing streak, they scored just nine runs. Against the Diamondbacks’ struggling right-hander Chase Anderson, Dodgers hitters struck out 10 times in six innings, a career high for Anderson, who averages 6.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
Utley led off the bottom of the first with a home run. But the Dodgers did not record another hit until Rollins bunted for a single to lead off the eighth inning. After Ronald Torreyes sacrificed Rollins to second with another bunt, Utley drove him in with a double.
On the next at-bat, third baseman Corey Seager curled a home run around the right-field foul pole to make it 4-1.
Seager has reached base in all of his 18 major league starts, extending a Los Angeles Dodgers record.
Left-hander Clayton Kershaw (14-7, 2.18 ERA) will face Diamondbacks left-hander Patrick Corbin (6-4, 2.99) on Thursday at noon at Dodger Stadium. TV: SportsNet LA; Radio: 570, 1020.
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