Greinke figures to keep runs down for D-backs vs. Brewers
Sports Xchange - Tuesday 15th May, 2018
PHOENIX -- Scoring at Chase Field this season is on pace for a 15-year low, but no one is quite ready to point to installation of a humidor as the only culprit.
Usually among the most hitter-friendly parks in the majors, Chase Field ranked 28th in the majors in comparative average runs scored per game when the Diamondbacks entered a three-game series against Milwaukee on Monday.
The game did not buck the trend -- Milwaukee won, 7-2, buoyed by three runs in the ninth inning, including an inside-the-park homer by Tyler Saladino on which Arizona center fielder A.J. Pollock dove for the ball and was then removed after suffering a sprained left thumb. Pollock is to see the Diamondbacks' hand specialist Tuesday.
Arizona right-hander Zack Greinke (3-2), who has done his part to keep the scoring at Chase the last two seasons, will face Milwaukee right-hander Jhoulys Chacin in the second game of the series Tuesday.
The scoring downturn simply could have something to do with the small sample size. The D-backs have played only 24 home games. Moreover, injuries have kept middle of-the-order bats Jake Lamb and Steven Souza out of the lineup much of the season, and Paul Goldschmidt is off to a slow start.
"There are so many factors," Goldschmidt said. "I'm sure there is some effect, but both teams are playing with it, and so the outcomes of games are not going to be skewed one way or the other. It would be different if there was a way to prepare for it. I don't even think there is a way you can do something different.
"When you go into a ballpark and the ball really carries, you don't try to (hit) the ball into the air more. You just try to hit the ball hard and sometimes it may work out to your favor in a ballpark where it carries, You get some balls that you just miss that are homers and maybe in a bigger ball park weren't, and vice versa.
"The biggest takeaway, it's not going to benefit one side or the other, in my opinion."
Chase Field has ranked in the top 10 in runs scored in 14 of the last 15 seasons and in the top five eight times in the last 12 years.
"We've missed some offensive players, so I think naturally the numbers are not going to show as strong as they possibly could be," Lovullo said.
Several opponents have remarked privately about the discrepancy, and Washington's Bryce Harper was forthright in his assessment last weekend.
"It's terrible," said Harper, who had two doubles and a homer but also had two fly balls caught at the wall in the Nationals' four-game sweep.
"I think it's definitely changed a lot," Harper said. "You usually come here and you are thinking maybe hit one or two homers and have a good couple of days in Arizona. But you really have to get it or put one down the line each way to get it out of his place. Definitely changes the atmosphere here. It's definitely tough."
Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell's team heads to Arizona after winning three of four at Coors Field, the site of the original humidor. Counsell spent five seasons with the Diamondbacks, and he is taking a wait-and-see approach
"You could look at their team numbers and say that the humidor has been a factor, he said. "There have been a lot of anecdotal people saying it is playing different. New surface. Humidor with the balls. We'll see. Ask me Wednesday."
Greinke, who has a 3.70 ERA, has given up only four runs in his last three starts, although he has only come away with one victory and two no-decisions.
Once again Greinke has particularly effective at home. He is 2-0 with a 1.72 ERA in five home starts this season, giving up only 21 hits while striking out 32 in 31 1/3 innings. He was 13-1 at Chase Field last season, the NL high for wins at home.
Greinke is 3-1 with a 4.20 ERA in six games, five starts, against Milwaukee. He pitched for the Brewers from 2011-12.
Chacin has won his last three decisions over six starts with a 2.87 ERA, and the Brewers are 7-2 in his starts and have won the last five. He is 6-4 with a 3.48 ERA in 17 games, 16 starts, against the Diamondbacks in his career, doing most of that work with Colorado.
"He's gotten his slider going, and that's obviously a big pitch for him," Counsell said.
Chacin, who spent the latter part of 2015 with Arizona, is 2-4 with a 3.99 ERA in 10 starts at Chase Field. He is 2-3 with a 4.46 ERA at Chase Field when facing the Diamondbacks.
Brewers rookie Freddy Peralta, who struck out 13 in 5 2/3 innings in a 7-3 victory in his major league debut in Colorado on Sunday, will remain in the rotation and pitch Saturday in Minnesota, Counsell said.
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