By Jon Weisman
Like Eric Gagne with his streak of consecutive saves heading into the 2003 All-Star Game, Zack Greinke brought a streak of scoreless innings into the 2015 All-Star Game. And like Gagne, Greinke’s streak will continue despite an exhibition interruption.
Leadoff batter Mike Trout lined Greinke’s 1-2 fastball the opposite way into the right-field seats tonight, scoring the first run off Greinke in any setting since June 13.
Greinke walked the next batter, Josh Donaldson, on a full-count fastball. But he retired the next six batters he faced, striking out four (Albert Pujols, Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones and Salvador Perez), with Lorenzo Cain popping out to end the first inning and Jose Altuve grounding out to end the second.
According to Fox Sports, he is the first All-Star pitcher to strike out four since Pedro Martinez in 1999, and the first NL pitcher to do it since Lee Smith in 1987. The Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela, of course, famously struck out five in a row in 1986.
The right-hander finished with 39 pitches, 25 for strikes. He will likely take four days off before returning Sunday, if the Dodgers follow through on their plan to separate Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in the starting rotation. (Pending what happens tonight, Kershaw — who hasn’t made a start since his July 8 shutout — is likely to pitch Friday in the opening of the second half at Washington.)
In two previous All-Star appearances, Greinke retired all six batters he faced, so for his All-Star career, he has now retired 12 of 14 batters, striking out eight.
Funnily enough, Greinke allowed a run in his first inning of the 2015 regular season, April 7 against San Diego. He allowed no other runs in that game, and only 18 earned runs in his next 17 starts.
Trout entered the game with a single, double and triple in seven career at-bats, so the home run gave the young outfielder a theoretical career cycle against Greinke, as well as an All-Star career cycle.
Mike Trout led off his first ASG with a single, second with a double, third with a triple and fourth with a homer. The natural ASG cycle.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 15, 2015
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