PHOENIX — Pitching matchups like this just don’t come along very often. It’s been almost 11 years, in fact.
Tuesday night’s contest between the Diamondbacks and Yankees pitted Zack Greinke against CC Sabathia, and it didn’t disappoint. The two entered the game with a combined 5,471 career strikeouts, then added another dozen to that total. To put it into perspective, that’s the most combined strikeouts two starters have carried into a matchup since Jamie Moyer and Greg Maddux brought 5,567 to the table in an Aug. 15, 2008 contest between the Phillies and Padres.
Greinke and Sabathia also have a combined 439 career wins between them. And they’ve made 11 All-Star teams while winning two Cy Young Awards. So yeah, this was a little different.
“Two great pitchers,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “Two potential Hall of Famers locking up in our venue. I was a baseball fan for a little while.”
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When the dust settled, it was Arizona emerging with a 3-1 victory in front of 36,352 fans at Chase Field. Greinke delivered his sixth straight quality start, fanning seven while allowing just one run over 7.2 innings of work. He had the New York hitters off balance all night.
“It was just getting confusing with the scouting report,” Greinke explained. “And then I talked to Murph [John Ryan Murphy] and was like, ‘Hey let’s just mainly stay fastball/slider and see how it goes, and go from there.’ So that was kind of how that happened, instead of getting too crazy with the scouting report today.”
It worked. And Greinke continues to roll. After struggling in the opener back on March 28 against the Dodgers, the 35-year old righty has won his last five decisions while posting an ERA of 2.01 in April. He’s allowed just nine runs over 40.1 innings in that stretch, and once again looks like the ace the D-backs need right now. Especially with Zack Godley falling out of favor in the middle of the rotation.
Sabathia delivered in this one as well, though. Entering the night with 2,997 career strikeouts, he punched out five Arizona hitters to become just the third left-handed pitcher in Major League history (Randy Johnson and Steve Carlton are the others) to hit the 3,000 mark.
Murphy was victim number 3,000, swinging to end the second inning.
“I asked him if he wanted me to sign the baseball for him,” Murphy joked afterward.
With both pitchers dealing, the game lasted just two hours and 33 minutes – a number almost unheard of in 2019. Wilmer Flores triggered the offense with a solo home run to left in the second, giving the Diamondbacks at least one extra-base hit in all 30 games this year. Then he singled home Eduardo Escobar to put Arizona up for good in the fourth.
Speaking of Escobar, he continued his recent run of hot play, following up NL Player of the Week honors with three more hits – including two doubles – to raise his average to .303.
With the win, Arizona moves to 17-13 on the season, two games back of Los Angeles for first in the NL West. This was the first time the Yankees have been in town since May of 2016, and it’s only a quick two-game series. Merrill Kelly will take the mound for the D-backs on Wednesday afternoon, while New York counters with Masahiro Tanaka.
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