The Los Angeles Dodgers were on the cusp of several historic feats on Friday night, but only right-hander Zack Greinke can lay claim to tying a major league record. A record he already partially owned, for those scoring at home.
In the second inning of the Dodgers' 8-1 victory, Greinke became only the third pitcher in MLB history to notch multiple four-strikeout innings. You can watch it play out in the video beginning at the 20-second mark.
Greinke got Hector Sanchez swinging and Tim Lincecum looking to begin the inning. Free-swinging Hunter Pence was next and predictably went down flailing at a pitch in the dirt that got past catcher A.J. Ellis. That allowed Pence to reach first base on what was scored a wild pitch. Greinke recovered to get Gregor Blanco swinging on a pitch in the dirt. Ellis had to throw him out at first, or we may have been looking at the first-ever five strikeout inning in MLB history.
Oh, what could have been.
Greinke also struck out four batters in one inning during his short stay with the Los Angeles Angels in 2012. On Sept 25, he fanned John Jaso, Eric Thames, Trayvon Robinson and Brendan Ryan of the Seattle Mariners, but he also allowed one run on two hits in that frame. On Friday, he only faced the four batters, needing 23 pitches to finish the job.
Perhaps it moved so smoothly he didn't even have a chance to realize what he was doing.
"This time I didn't even notice," said Greinke. "I still wasn't pitching as well as I wanted. The strikeout pitch on Hunter wasn't where I wanted it to go and I was wrapped up in that and making sure it's not a big inning."
Greinke joins A.J. Burnett and Chuck Finley as the only pitchers in history with multiple four-strikeout innings. Finley has actually done it three times, so that gives Greinke something to shoot for.
He's also the fifth Dodgers to accomplish the feat. Pete Richert (1962), Don Drysdale (1965), Darren Dreifort (2003) and Brad Penny (2006) are the others.
It's a rare achievement for sure, mainly because it requires a couple things to go right (and wrong) to make it possible. But it says a lot about a pitcher's dominance when he can strike out four major leaguers in a given inning.
Hats off to Zack Greinke.
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