Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Greinke is slowing down [b][url=http://www.bearscheapstores.com/riley-ridley-jersey-cheap]http://www.bearscheapstores.com/riley-ridley-jersey-cheap[/url][/b] , which is not uncommon for a 34-year-old pitcher.
The majors’ second highest-paid pitcher this season – he’s making $32 million — never hesitates to tinker with his pitch selection, and that’s been evident in recent games. Greinke is throwing a pitch that he’s never flashed before, a slower-than-slow curveball that arrives at the plate with a speed that barely exceeds that of a knuckleball.
So, when the Miami Marlins take on Greinke (7-5, 3.66 ERA) and the Diamondbacks on Thursday in the final contest of a four-game series at Marlins Park, they will be facing one of the majors’ most familiar pitchers yet one they’ve never quite seen before.
“It’s been working really good this year,” Greinke told reporters after he pitched six shutout innings in a 7-2 Diamondbacks victory Saturday in Pittsburgh. “I don’t know how long it will last for, but it’s been working good. I didn’t throw any harder curves, where I think the whole year, I’ve kind of done both. But my harder one gets hit usually. So, I started throwing only the slow ones.”
Greinke opposes Marlins right-hander Trevor Richards (2-4, 4.91), who has won two of his last three decisions. Richards won 6-2 at Colorado on Saturday, permitting one run and three hits over six innings, striking out eight and walking two.
The Diamondbacks could not have received a much better performance Wednesday from left-hander Robbie Ray as they beat Miami 2-1 and improved to 7-2 on their 10-game road trip. Ray [b][url=http://www.cowboyscheapauthenticstore.com/trysten-hill-jersey-cheap]http://www.cowboyscheapauthenticstore.com/trysten-hill-jersey-cheap[/url][/b] , out since April 29 with an oblique injury, allowed two hits over six shutout innings while making 83 pitches.
Daniel Descalso hit a key pinch-hit homer for the Diamondbacks in the eighth inning to make it 2-0, and reliever Yoshihisa Hirano tied a club record by making his 24th consecutive scoreless relief outing, throwing a scoreless seventh inning.
Arizona overcame a shaky ninth inning from closer Brad Boxberger, who gave up a solo homer to Starlin Castro before allowing the potential tying run reach second with one out before retiring the final two batters.
“Other than that, we didn’t get a lot going,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Starlin Castro’s always going to get his hits. Hopefully he can keep that rolling.”
The Diamondbacks can win the four-game series if they take the Thursday matinee behind Greinke, whose velocity is down the last few seasons — his four-seam fastball maxed out at 90.7 mph in Pittsburgh.
He once threw consistently in the mid-90s. But when he mixes in an eephus pitch-like curveball that doesn’t even reach 68 mph, it makes his fastball look all that much harder. And he threw 12 of them against the Pirates.
Still, after Pirates rookie Austin Meadows barely missed homering on Greinke’s final super-slow curveball of the day, the right-hander said, “It might have been running its course. So maybe 12 times was too many.”
Whatever Greinke is throwing up there, it’s working. He has won four of his last five decisions, and he’s helping keep the streaky Diamondbacks in first place.
They began the season 24-11, then dropped 15 of 17 to fall to .500 at 26-26 but have since won 20 of 28 and six of seven.
Greinke has been especially tough on the Marlins during his career [b][url=http://www.cowboyscheapauthenticstore.com/connor-mcgovern-jersey-cheap]Connor McGovern Jersey[/url][/b] , going 6-0 with a 3.53 ERA against them in 11 games (10 starts). He last faced them June 2, limiting them to one run on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking one while earning the victory in a 6-2 Diamondbacks win. Castro hits him well, going 9-of-25 with a home run and four doubles.
The first-place Diamondbacks return home following the contest to begin a three-game weekend series against the NL West rival San Francisco Giants.
Nicked in the first inning, Aaron Nola figured he’d be fine if could find his form. He did, and the Philadelphia Phillies took advantage.
Maikel Franco went 4 for 4, Carlos Santana homered and the Phillies defeated the Washington Nationals 5-3 on Saturday.
”The way (we’ve) been swinging lately, I just felt like if I kept putting up zeros and battling out there they were going to come through and score some more runs,” Nola said.
With the Phillies leading 3-2 in the eighth, Santana sent a drive into the Philadelphia bullpen in left-center field off Kelvin Herrera for his 13th homer of the season and second in two games. Franco later added an RBI single.
Philadelphia’s Odubel Herrera, who had homered in five straight games, went 0 for 4.
The Phillies have won five of six while the Nationals have lost three of four, scoring a total of nine runs. Anthony Rendon homered for Washington.
”Look, I’ve got all the confidence in the world we’re going to start hitting,” manager Dave Martinez said. ”We’ll start scoring some runs. Right now the bullpen is a little beat up. We’ve got to get them going again.”
Nola (9-2) stiffened after giving up two runs in the first inning. He didn’t allow a hit after the second and left following the sixth. He also hit an RBI single.
Seranthony Dominguez worked the ninth for his fourth save.
Erick Fedde (0-3) allowed three runs on eight hits in six-plus innings.
”They have a lot of patient hitters [b][url=http://www.coltscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-khari-willis-jersey]Khari Willis Jersey[/url][/b] ,” Fedde said. ”I think that’s what makes it tough. Guys aren’t swinging at bunch of junk, so you have to attack them.”
With the score 2-all, Franco doubled leading off the seventh and moved to third on a groundout. Pinch-hitter Jesmuel Valentin lifted a fly to right, Franco tagged and just beat Adam Eaton’s throw home with the safe call surviving a replay challenge.
”That was just a tremendous all-around baseball game,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said of Franco’s day.
Daniel Murphy’s two-run single in the first inning gave Washington the early lead, but the Phillies strung together four two-out singles – the last by Nola – in the second to tie it.
For the second consecutive game, Harper tried to beat the shift with a first-inning bunt. Friday night, he bunted foul before striking out and Saturday he was thrown out by Nola.
Phillies: RHP Jerad Eickhoff (right lat strain) threw a 35-pitch bullpen session and will likely throw another session in a few days.
Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman (right oblique strain) is expected to go on a rehabilitation assignment within the next week, according to Martinez. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right hamstring strain) will pitch Sunday for Class A Potomac and is expected to rejoin the rotation after the one rehab start. … RH reliever Brandon Kintzler (right foreman flexor strain) will also pitch at Potomac on Sunday.
Phillies: RHP Nick Pivetta (4-6, 4.08), acquired from Washington in the trade for Jonathan Papelbon, pitches the finale. He’s 0-2 with an 11.81 ERA in three starts against the Nationals.
Nationals: RHP Jefry Rodriguez (0-0, 4.66) makes his second big league start.
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