By Jon Weisman
Closer and steeper. Zack Greinke can move within tantalizing range of Orel Hershiser’s all-time consecutive scoreless inning record today, if he can withstand the pressurized attention that comes with the approach.
Actually, I’m just imagining that last part. We’ll all be tense, but Greinke will probably be the most relaxed person out there today. (That includes the rest of the Dodgers, who will be facing the National League pitcher with the lowest ERA besides Greinke’s: Jacob deGrom.)
Greinke enters today’s game with his streak at 43 2/3 innings (see the inning-by-inning breakdown here). Recapping some of the highlights:
- Greinke has retired 59 of the past 64 batters he has faced.
- No runner has reached third base against Greinke since the first inning June 23 — a streak of 35 2/3 innings.
- No runner has reached second base against Greinke since the third inning July 4 — a streak of 20 innings.
Here are the targets left for Greinke:
- 43 2/3 Rube Waddell (1905)
- 44 Ed Reulbach (1908)
- 45 Sal Maglie (1950)
- 45 Doc White (1904)
- 45 Cy Young (1904)
- 45 1/3 Carl Hubbell (1933)
- 47 Bob Gibson (1968)
- 53 Jack Coombs (1910)
- 55 2/3 Walter Johnson (1913)
- 58 Don Drysdale (1968)
- 59 Orel Hershiser (1988)
Here are some links to check out before today’s game:
- Joe Posnanski tells a classic Greinke story at his website.
- A deep analytical dive on Greinke and Clayton Kershaw from Scott Spratt of Baseball Info Solutions.
- Orel Hershiser’s take, via Mark Saxon at ESPN Los Angeles: “In my whole career, I never threw the ball better than Zack Greinke. Never,” Hershiser said. “I never threw with his velocity, I never threw with his change of speeds, I never was able to execute as many pitches as he can on any given night to both sides of the plate. On any given night in my career, I haven’t ever thrown the ball better than Clayton Kershaw. These guys are just better.”
- Hershiser also spoke to Bill Plunkett of the Register. “Yeah, it’s kind of interesting that it’s come full circle, that there’s a possibility I’ll be sitting in the same chair that he (Drysdale) was sitting in during my streak,” Hershiser said. “Things have changed. It’s a completely different culture when it comes to media. It’s a different generation we’re living in.
- We’re 111 days into the regular season. Only Bob Gibson in 1968 had a lower ERA at a similar point than Greinke’s 1.30, notes David Pinto of Baseball Musings.
- Greinke is bucking conventional wisdom by reducing the difference in speed between his fastball and changeup, writes Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs.
- Yasmani Grandal’s impact on Greinke’s streak is studied by Mike Petriello at MLB.com.