Greinke gives Astros needed boost


Written by: B. Keith Crear III | SFL Photo-Journalist

In a 7-4 win, Greinke served as a safe harbor for the Astros against an unreliable bullpen for eight innings.

One home run, one walk, four strikeouts, six hits were tallied in his outing. The pitcher threw 69 of his 104 pitches for strikes (66 percent). A seven-run offensive outburst gave the Astros a series win. A 73-mph curveball by Webster Rivas in the fifth inning was the only blemish on Greinke's record.

“This guy earns his money,” manager Dusty Baker said. “He knows what the team needs. He knew we needed him to go deep in the game. … This is what aces do. Aces come through at the right time.”

As the Astros' bullpen prepares for the series finale, back-to-back five-hour games have put them in a tough spot. After pitching the night before, relievers Ryan Pressly, Ryne Stanek, Joe Smith, and Brooks Raley were unavailable Sunday.

Greinke's eight-inning outing was the longest by an Astros starter this homestand, and Greinke himself went eight innings May 19 in an 8-1 win over Oakland.

Since he began pitching in this season (732/3), he has pitched more innings (372/3), has an improved ERA (3.67), WHIP (1.13), and a better average on balls in play (.275). In those categories, only a few MLB pitchers are better than him.

During the sixth inning, Greinke let Profar get a leadoff single and then walked Tatis Jr. following a four-ball walk, sending two on with one out. Despite throwing two more pitches to Eric Hosmer and having pitching coach Brent Strom visit the mound, Greinke was down 3-1 in the count and got Hosmer to ground into a double play, the first of two turned by the Astros defense behind Greinke.

“The Hosmer one was a big one,” Greinke said. “I was in a tough spot and he took some good pitches, so I was in trouble. It could have been ball four. It was a close pitch. I throw a lot of strikes so you've got to be ready to swing and it just worked out nice.”

Baker said he briefly considered allowing Greinke to play in the ninth inning following a 3-6-3 double play by Aledmys Diaz and Carlos Correa. In order not to overextend Greinke, he substituted Andre Scrubb for one of the outs, allowing three runs to score.

Despite Scrubb's errors, Greinke won 213 games for his career. The Astros sorely needed it, and they must hope their other starters can replicate it in order to prevent further bullpen disasters.

On Monday, the Astros and Red Sox will begin a four-game home series. So far this season, Jose Urquidy is the only pitcher in Houston's rotation who has pitched seven innings in a start. Due to a shoulder injury, he is unlikely to throw more than six innings on Monday.

When Greinke starts on the mound, the Astros are 9-3 this season. From the rotation to the bullpen, Greinke is reliable option among a pitching staff plagued by injuries. 

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