Zack Greinke gives ‘vintage' performance, shuts down Phillies' feeble offense



Even if these were the Phillies of 2007 to 2011, the ones who could slug with most anyone, they still would have faced a steep challenge Saturday.
But for the offense-poor Phillies of 2016, going up against Zack Greinke and his mix of power, finesse and command Saturday afternoon was a virtual impossibility.
“Greinke was vintage Greinke,” manager Pete Mackanin said after the $206-million right-hander led the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 4-1 win over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park (see game recap). “He really threw well. He threw all his pitches for strikes and changed speeds.
“His changeup is devastating and he throws all his secondary pitches for strikes at any time in the count.”
Odubel Herrera ambushed a Greinke fastball for a home run in the bottom of the first inning, but that was all the Phils got against the Arizona ace, who needed just 94 pitches to complete eight innings of three-hit, one-walk, six-strikeout ball for his 10th win.
Really, this was a mismatch. Greinke, who signed a six-year, $206 million contract with Diamondbacks in the offseason, against a Phillies team that has now lost 22 of their last 28 and five in a row by a combined score of 45-10. The Phillies are dead last in the majors in batting average (.227) and runs per game (3.17).
“We’re not scoring enough runs, obviously,” Mackanin said. “We needed more offense. I’ve been saying it all year. These guys have to turn it around.
“The whole texture of the game changes if we have a little more offense and we’re just not doing that.
“(Jerad) Eickhoff pitched well enough with a better hitting team to keep us in the game. We just couldn’t solve Greinke and understandably so.”
Now comes the broken-record portion of this story. The lack of scoring puts incredible pressure on the pitching staff to be precise. One bad inning, one bad pitch by a Phillies starter can take the team out of the game.
That is essentially what happened here. Eickhoff was solid through four innings. He gave up a game-tying solo homer to lead off the fifth. Three batters later, he was tagged for a two-run shot by Paul Goldschmidt. The Arizona slugger hit an 0-2 slider to put his team ahead for good.
This Phillies’ staff has given up damaging hits on 0-2 pitches all season and Goldschmidt’s really hurt, especially considering that the Phils’ weak offense has difficulty mounting comebacks.
“The last two days we’ve give up home runs with the pitcher up 0-2, 1-2, 2-2,” Mackanin said. “The pitcher is ahead and we’re making mistakes out over the plate. We have to get that corrected.”
Phillies pitching has given up 13 homers the last three games and 19 the last five.
Eickhoff’s thinking in throwing Goldschmidt a slider made sense. He just located it poorly. Two innings earlier, he’d gotten Goldschmidt to pop up a high, 1-2 fastball.
“He’s such a good hitter, I was trying to mix looks,” Eickhoff said. “I needed to bounce that pitch or get it off the plate.”
For Eickhoff, the game came down to that one pitch.
“I see it as one pitch, the 0-2 slider to Goldy – two-run homer,” Eickhoff said. “If that pitch is made, it’s a one-run game. It’s really as simple as that.”
Looking for offense, Mackanin shuffled his lineup. Cody Asche led off for the first time in his career. Struggling Maikel Franco was dropped to sixth. Andres Blanco played second and batted third as Cesar Hernandez sat. Ryan Howard got a start, a tough assignment against Greinke, and went hitless to fall to .145 on the season. He rather pathetically tapped into a double play to end the game.
None of Mackanin’s adjustments really produced except for Blanco. He had two of the Phillies' four hits and might start playing more in place of Hernandez.
The losses are mounting. Players are pressing.
“I think everyone needs to try to take a deep breath and try to do less,” Asche said. “That might be laughable to the public eye. ‘How can we possibly do less?' But sometimes, less is more. Just taking a step back and not trying to hit an eight-run homer or a 12-run double. Just trying to get on base for the next guy and get things rolling. That’s what happens in baseball. 

"Sometimes you get in a rut and human nature takes over. Everyone wants it so bad and it snowballs and you end up trying to do too much. You get a guy like Grienke on the mound and he preys on guys who try to do too much.”

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