Saturday, June 18, 2016

D-backs go deep thrice to back Greinke in win

  Zack Greinke extended his winning streak to seven as he tossed eight outstanding innings to lead the D-backs past the Phillies, 4-1, on Saturday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
Greinke (10-3) has won seven straight starts and on Saturday, after he allowed a first-inning homer to Odubel Herrera, he did not allow another hit until Andres Blanco led off the seventh with a single. Overall, the right-hander allowed three hits and a walk to go with six strikeouts.
"I threw a lot of strikes, and there were a lot of balls put in play early," Greinke said. "There were a couple of longer at-bats that got the pitch count up a little bit. But mainly just attacking the zone and trying to get balls put in play weakly."
The Phillies had a 1-0 lead until the fifth when Nick Ahmed tied things up with his fourth homer of the year. Later in the inning, Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run blast and Jake Lambadded a solo homer in the seventh to cap the scoring.
Greinke's been great: Over his seven-start winning streak, Greinke has a 1.90 ERA, 41 strikeouts and just six walks. It's quite a contrast from earlier this season, when Greinke dropped his first two starts and had a 9.90 ERA in those games. Before this winning streak, his ERA was 5.26.
"He really understands his stuff, and he understands the team he's pitching against," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "So one day it might be the slider that he's featuring, it might be the overhand curveball he uses to get ahead and his changeup. So he understands different hitters and what he has that day and does a really good job. Welington Castillo has caught him every time, and really every time, they've worked well together."
Playing long ball: After matching a club record with six homers in the series opener Friday night, the D-backs added three more Saturday. Goldschmidt's two-run homer in the fifth was his 14th of the year and extended his hitting streak to 12 games, the longest active streak in the Majors.
"We were patient, we didn't panic with the offense," Hale said. "I thought [Phillies starter Jerad] Eickhoff did a really good job of pitching today. Got a lot of strikeouts against us, but we capitalized. We got the run and Goldy hits the two-run homer, and we got a little insurance from Lamber. Good baseball game."
Eickhoff attacks: Eickhoff started the game strong. He struck out four batters in the first two innings and didn't allow a run until the fifth. The first time Peter O'Brien -- who hit two home runs in Friday's 10-2 game -- stepped to the plate, Eickhoff sent him a fastball up and in. He threw a couple more on the inside corner and continued to attack the inside portion of the plate for much of game.
"That's what I've always done," Eickhoff said. "Going inside is important, and I feel like I do that. I was able to do that for the most part today."
Even in the final two innings, Eickhoff and Mackanin felt he was still attacking. Instead, Eickhoff blamed balls finding the holes, as he gave up two homers. Mackanin said he thought Eickhoff lost his command the final two innings, eventually going to Andrew Bailey with the bases loaded and two outs.
"He could've gotten out of it, but I chose not to leave him in there," Mackanin said. "Bailey did a nice job bailing him out, going right after the hitter. I hate bringing a guy in with the bases loaded, but I felt like I had to."
Homers hurt Phils again: The Phillies set a franchise record in Friday's game, allowing their 17th home run over four games. The pattern continued into Saturday. Although the Phils did not join the 1977 Yankees as the only team to allow at least five home runs in three consecutive games, they came only two shy, with Eickhoff surrendering two in the fifth (becoming sixth Phillie to allow multiple home runs in an inning since Tuesday).
Mackanin sees a disheartening trend in that a number of the home runs have come on two-strike counts. Both Goldschmidt and Lamb's blasts came with two strikes, 0-2 and 1-2, respectively.
"It boils down to being able to command your slider or your breaking ball or secondary pitch or fastball up and in," Mackanin said. "You have to command that pitch, and if you leave it out over the plate, you get burned."
Franco falters: When Mackanin made the lineup card Saturday, Maikel Franco was penciled in the lowest spot he'd hit this season, at sixth. It also included, in an attempt to stimulate the offense, Cody Asche hitting leadoff for the first time in his pro career and Odubel Herrera out of the top spot for the first time since April 19. But Mackanin's message was to Franco. After Friday's game, he said he believes Franco is getting into his own head and that he was going to move him down significantly. Mackanin kept his word, but it didn't help his young third baseman.
Franco came to the plate with as the tying run with one out in the seventh. Andres Blanco stood on third and Jimmy Paredes on second. Greinke fell behind 3-0 to Franco. Yet, the at-bat ended with Franco's helmet on the dirt of the batter's box after he struck out swinging on a 3-2 curve from Greinke.
"We sure need his bat," Mackanin said. "We need him to be what he's capable of. For some reason, he just got out of sync. He's not giving us disciplined, professional at-bats right now. Partially I think that's because he's overanxious, and he feels he needs to do too much."
Franco denied that he was pressing, but he admitted that he might be overswinging at times.
"It's totally frustrating for everybody," Franco said. "You wanna do something, you want to go out there with energy and everything like that. Nothing good is happening right now. It's frustrating for everybody."
D-backs: Archie Bradley (2-3, 5.66 ERA) gets the start for the D-backs on Sunday at 10:35 a.m. MT at Citizens Bank Park in the third game of a four-game set with the Phillies. Bradley took the loss in his last start against the Dodgers. He set a career high with 10 strikeouts on June 3 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Phillies: Zach Eflin (0-1, 27.00) will make his first career start at Citizens Bank Park at 1:35 p.m. ET. In his Major League debut against the Blue Jays in Toronto, Eflin didn't make it out of the third, allowing nine runs on nine hits while serving up three home runs. The 22-year-old right is ranked as the Phillies' No. 13 prospect by

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