Just when you think that these Pittsburgh Pirates aren’t your father’s Bucs, they come into Dodger Stadium and show that they remain the best elixir an early season schedule can buy.
The Pirates, who haven’t won at Chavez Ravine since 2011, were just the medicine the anemic-hitting Dodgers needed, opening their three-game series Friday night by inspiring the fan base into thoughts of October Blue Destiny.
The Bucs made Zack Greinke look like the $147 million man he is paid to be in his debut, a 3-0 combined shutout, while southpaw Jonathan Sanchez gave up an RBI double to a thankful Matt Kemp whose celebration betrayed all those denials of not being worried that he was hitless through three games and a dozen at-bats.
Kemp’s mom Judy Henderson was at the game, and the beaming Dodger star pointed to her from second base, happy that his early season drought was over.
Pitching for the first time in Dodger Stadium, Greinke allowed only singles to Garrett Jones and Andrew McCutchen in 6 1/3 innings that included six strikeouts, no walks and fastballs that were clocked in the low and mid-90s.
Sore elbow? What sore elbow? Greinke, who was limited to only 13 innings during spring training, was allowed to make 92 pitches. He also singled, and if you’re keeping track, that means that he and ace Clayton Kershaw now have as many hits as Kemp and most of the starters for that matter.
Andre Ethier gave Greinke all the offense he needed with a solo homer in the second inning. The Dodgers added two more runs in the sixth inning on Kemp’s RBI single and Adrian Gonzalez’s run-scoring double.
The game also marked the return to the lineup of Dodger shortstop Justin Sellers after his two-error inning that cost the team Tuesday’s game to the San Francisco Giants.
Sellers had a solid game that included a sparkling diving stop of a ball hit by Garrett Jones, robbing him of a single in the fifth inning.
Among the people who consoled Sellers over the past two days was Dodger shortstop legend Maury Wills who told the young infielder the story of his own horrendous debut in 1959 – a three-error start on national television that also cost the team the game.
His consolation, Wills told him, was that the Dodgers went on to win the pennant and the World Series.