Another home start, another pitching victory for Zack Greinke. The Milwaukee Brewers ace moved to 15-0 over 21 starts at Miller Park after striking out 12 Chicago Cubs over seven innings in an 8-0 win on Wednesday.
He's the fourth pitcher since 1900 to win his first 15 home decisions with a team. Kenny Rogers was the last pitcher to make such a great extended first impression, winning his first 15 starts in Oakland between 1998-99.
So what does Greinke attribute his success to? A healthy average of 5.7 runs of support from his Brewers offense each game? Somehow mastering the dimensions of a ballpark that are actually quite friendly to hitters?
Nope. According to Greinke, it comes down to the quality of that morning's java and the proximity of his breakfast from his bed when he wakes up. Really.
"You're comfortable at home. You wake up in your bed," he said. "You don't have to go anywhere to get your breakfast and coffee. Sometimes, in the hotels they have bad coffee or something, so you have to go do other stuff. Then you get to come to the field in your car (at home).
"Our clubhouse is nice. In some of those clubhouses you don't have space to get ready. Here, you have a routine that's easy to do. There's lots of space. That helps a lot in making you comfortable."
We're not going to doubt the veracity of Greinke's claims. Breakfast, after all, is the most important meal of the day and routine can be important. Greinke is clearly comfortable dealing in Milwaukee and that's probably to the Brewers' advantage when the two sides attempt to negotiate a free-agent contract after the season.
With all money being equal, why would Greinke want to move to another team with the way he's been performing at Miller Park? He's struck out nine or more batters in 12 of those 21 starts and allowed two or fewer runs in 16 of them. His ERA at Miller Park since the start of 2011 rests at 2.63. While wins and losses might be a suspect stat, he's had as much to do with this streak as simple luck or his run support has. (Here's the full game log.) Even if you hate stories based on pitching decisions, you have to appreciate the brighter light that it can shine on a pitcher's sparkling performances.
Not that the sometimes random nature of pitcher decisions hasn't reared its ugly head during this run. While the Brewers have won 20 of Greinke's 21 starts, he actually recorded his highest game score — an 89 built on the back of eight innings of 11-strikeout, two-hit ball — in a 2-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds back on May 9.