Greinke, D-backs look to avoid sweep by Padres

Field Level Media

April 14, 2019 at 6:40 am.

All that stands between the San Diego Padres and a four-game sweep of the host Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday is Zack Greinke.

And that is a formidable hurdle.

Greinke (1-1, 7.16 ERA) is 12-2 in his career against the Padres with a 2.29 ERA in 23 starts. He faced San Diego on April 2, holding the team to three runs on six hits with 10 strikeouts in six innings.

Not to mention, he was dangerous with the bat as well, homering twice in a game for the first time in his career. His first of those blasts came off Padres left-hander Eric Lauer (2-1, 4.76 ERA), who again will be his opponent Sunday afternoon.

Lauer’s only loss this season was in that game, as he allowed four runs on nine hits and a walk in five innings. Greinke tagged him for a three-run blast before adding his second home run off right-handed reliever Adam Warren.

After the game, Greinke made more of his pitching performance than his offense.

“Homers don’t mean much now,” he said. “It feels like everyone is hitting homers. The pitching, everything was way better. My pitches were sharper in San Diego. The command was better. It wasn’t perfect, but it was way, way better.”

Better is relative to Greinke’s first start, when he served up four homers and seven runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers. San Diego tagged him for two more blasts on April 2, and the 35-year-old has been taken deep six times in his first 16 1/3 innings this season.

Meanwhile, the 23-year-old Lauer has allowed nine runs on 17 hits and five walks in 17 innings across his first three starts. All the damage has come in his last two outings as he pitched six shutout innings against the San Francisco Giants on Opening Day.

Though the Diamondbacks have lost five of their last six, their lineup still poses a serious threat. They displayed as much in Saturday’s loss, scoring four runs in the sixth inning against the Padres bullpen in what ended as a 5-4 San Diego victory after Franmil Reyes homered in the seventh.

“These guys have been hitting left-handed pitching really well,” said Padres manager Andy Green of Arizona. “For Eric, it’s nothing different from the last game — avoiding the big hit, which is what he’s done so well the majority of the time he’s been in the big leagues.”

Sunday will mark Lauer’s fourth career start against the Diamondbacks. He is 1-1 with a 2.76 ERA in his first three outings.

Meanwhile, the Padres enter Sunday’s game with an 11-5 record and a three-game lead in the National League West. The last two times the Padres were at least 11-5 after 16 games were 1998 and 1984. They went on to win the National League pennant in each of those years.