Zack Greinke ran into trouble early Monday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the top of the first, the Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander gave up three runs on four hits. With how the Dodgers had been swinging the bats recently, it looked like another blowout was on its way.
In the top of the sixth, with nobody out and Cody Bellinger on first, Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker had a rocket hit at him by Max Muncy. He fielded it on one hop and fired to second. In the third inning, Muncy one-hopped into a 3-6-1 double play, and it looked like he was going to have it happen for the second straight at-bat. Walker’s throw, however, went wide, and everyone was safe. With Chris Taylor, Kike Hernandez, and Austin Barnes coming up, it looked like a big inning was on its way.
Zack Greinke and Christian Walker Pick Each Other Up
Neither situation turned out badly for the Diamondbacks. When Greinke ran into trouble in the first, Walker figuratively picked him up off the ground, dusted him off, and walked away from the mess with him. When Walker made his bad throw in the sixth, Greinke did the same.
Walker Erases Three-Run Deficit
In the bottom of the first, trailing 3-0, Walker came to the plate with Ketel Marte on second and Eduardo Escobar on first. David Peralta had just hit a disappointing infield popup for the second out. With ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers, it looked like a golden opportunity was about to go to waste. However, Walker was the ace up the Diamondbacks’ sleeve. Entering that at-bat, he was 2-for-5 in his career against Kershaw. Both hits were solo home runs.
On Kershaw’s first pitch, Walker swung. He hit a missile to left-center that landed in the picnic area hanging above the 25-foot wall for a three-run home run. The 427-foot drive screamed off the bat at 105 mph and tied the game. It was like he told Greinke, “Hey, man. I’ll pick you up. No worries,” before walking to the plate. It seemed to put a spring back into Greinke’s step, as he sat the Dodgers down in order in the top of the second and then hit a two-out solo home run off Kershaw in the bottom of the inning to give himself a 4-3 lead.
Double Play to End the Inning
In the top of the third, a leadoff single by Alex Verdugo and a wild pitch to the next hitter, Justin Turner, put a runner on second with nobody out. After Turner grounded to third and Bellinger reached on an intentional walk, Max Muncy smashed a curveball to the right side. It went right to Walker, who gunned it to shortstop Nick Ahmed to begin a double play. Ahmed’s throw to Greinke (covering first) arrived just in time, aided by a great stretch by Greinke. That double play seemed to give Greinke another boost. Over the next two innings, he only allowed one baserunner, and that came when a 61-mph curveball got away and hit Hernandez in the back.
Greinke Picks Up Walker
Fast-forward to the sixth inning, immediately following Walker’s throwing error. When Walker scooped Ahmed’s throw out of the dirt, he lost his balance. Greinke helped him up off the dirt, and, after a mound meeting with pitching coach Mike Butcher and the rest of the infield, struck out Chris Taylor for the first out. He then whiffed Hernandez on three pitches, bringing up pinch hitter Matt Beaty with two out. Beaty also fanned, ending the inning. In what seemed fitting, the final strike bounced to Kelly, who threw it to Walker at first to complete the strikeout.
Greinke Gets the No-Decision
The bullpen could not hold the lead for Greinke, but a four-run eighth gave the Diamondbacks the lead for good. Even though Greinke did not get credited with the win, his effort was praised by manager Torey Lovullo. “What can you say about Zack? He ends up hitting a home run that puts us ahead, and then works off of that on the mound. (He) did an exceptional job of managing at-bats by throwing the right pitches in the right locations and keeping a very offensive team in check.”
Picking Each Other Up
In a prime example of a team effort, the Diamondbacks hung on to defeat the Dodgers, 8-5. It would not have happened if the players hadn’t picked each other up. Lovullo said, “Those are things that we talk about – picking up your teammates and not caving in if you’re on the mound, or if something happens where a pitcher makes a mistake, position players have pride in going out there and making a great play behind him.” About Greinke striking out three straight after the failed double play attempt, Lovullo said, “It was a good team moment…. First and second, no outs, and they walk off the field with no runs? That was a great moment for Zack.”
Baseball is a team game, and successful teams pick each other up when they get into jams. Tough times happen to every team. The best team in the league always loses around one third of its games. Hitters who fail seven out of ten times are considered good. These players are the best in the world at what they do, yet they still make fielding errors every now and then. When tough situations strike, the best teams have players who pick each other up. Lovullo put it simply – “That’s what a good team does.”
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