Zack Greinke goes seven and the Dodgers beat the New York Mets, 5-2
The victory was arguably the most important of Zack Greinke’s three seasons with the Dodgers.
But Greinke became noticeably uncomfortable when he was asked about the most important play of the 5-2 victory over the New York Mets on Saturday night, which tied their National League division series at one game apiece.
“Sorry, I don’t really want to talk about it,” Greinke said. “I try to not get involved in confrontation anymore.”
There was a reason for that.
The play in question was violent and borderline illegal: a takeout slide at second base by Chase Utley that broke the right leg of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.
The play also changed the game, if not the series, as it sparked a four-run surge by the Dodgers in the seventh inning, which they entered trailing, 2-1.
Greinke, who limited the Mets to two runs and five hits over seven innings, improved to 2-1 in five postseason starts with the Dodgers.
“That was a must-win for us,” third baseman Justin Turner said. “If we go down 0-2 there, our backs are really against the wall.”
The best-of-five series resumes Monday at Citi Field in New York.
After dropping the series opener started by Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers were in danger of losing for the second time in as many nights when Utley went in hard on Tejada.
Utley was on first base after a pinch-hit single and Enrique Hernandez on third with one out in the seventh. The ageless Bartolo Colon emerged from the Mets bullpen to replace Mets starter Noah Syndergaard and pitch to Howie Kendrick.
Colon forced Kendrick to hit a grounder up the middle. Second baseman Daniel Murphy fielded it and flipped the ball to the Tejada for an attempted force out. Utley made a late and high slide into Tejada, whose back was turned to him and had no realistic chance of turning a double play.
With Hernandez scoring, it was a 2-2 game.
Tejada remained on the ground. He eventually was carted off the field.
The situation only worsened for the Mets, as the Dodgers argued that Tejada never touched second base on the play. The video replay system proved the Dodgers right and Utley was allowed to return to second base, even though he had never touched the bag either.
Tejada was replaced by Wilmer Flores and Colon by Addison Reed, who got rookie Corey Seager to fly out to left field.
But Adrian Gonzalez, who struck out his first three times up against Syndergaard, capitalized on the opportunity, his two-run double down the right-field line driving in Utley and Kendrick to move the Dodgers in front, 4-2.
Turner followed with another double, this one scoring Gonzalez and extending the Dodgers’ advantage to 5-2.
The lead was the first of the series for the Dodgers, who looked for most of the night as if they would be forced to relive their Game 1 nightmare.
Similar to how Kershaw was outpitched by Jacob deGrom on Friday night, Greinke looked less dominant than Syndergaard for much of Saturday.
Serving up solo home runs to Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto in the second inning, Greinke allowed the Mets to take an early 2-0 lead.
If the Dodgers thought they had trouble dealing with deGrom’s 97-mph fastball in Game 1, they were presented with an even more formidable obstacle in Game 2.
The first four pitches delivered by Syndergaard registered 99 mph on the stadium radar gun.
Syndergaard’s fifth pitch was a 100-mph fastball that struck out Seager.
The Mets’ rookie right-hander completed a perfect inning by striking out Gonzalez. Of the six pitches Syndergaard threw to Gonzalez, three were clocked at 101 mph.
The Dodges scored their first run in the fourth inning, when ex-Mets infielder Turner led off with a ground-rule double to left field. Andre Ethier followed with a double that reduced the deficit to 2-1. However, Ethier cost the Dodgers an opportunity to score another run, as he bolted for third base when Carl Crawford hit a comebacker at Syndergaard. Ethier was thrown out by a wide margin.
If the Dodgers did something right, it was inflating Syndergaard’s pitch count. He entered the seventh inning already having thrown 101 pitches. And that’s when the Dodgers, and especially Utley, turned things around.
Follow Dylan Hernandez on Twitter @dylanohernandez
Are you a true-blue fan?
Get our Dodgers Dugout newsletter for insights, news and much more.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.