Zack Greinke's first two starts with the Arizona Diamondbacks haven't gone as planned. A change in venue and a struggling next opponent could yield more expected results.
Greinke owns stellar career numbers against a San Diego Padres team seeking to avoid another shutout loss in Friday's opener of a three-game series.
The Diamondbacks haven't received the desired return on their six-year, $206.5 million investment to pry Greinke (0-2, 9.90 ERA) away from the division-rival Dodgers, at least in the short term. The 2015 NL Cy Young runner-up has been rocked for 11 runs in 10 innings in losing his first two outings with his new club, both at home. He had allowed 11 earned runs total over his first 10 starts of 2015 en route to registering an MLB-leading 1.66 ERA.
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''Too many mistakes, getting hit hard early and then started pitching better later. But not good enough so far,'' Greinke said after allowing three first-inning runs and four over six in Saturday's 4-2 loss to the red-hot Chicago Cubs. ''I've got to start pitching better here on out.''
Facing the Padres could be what he needs.
The three-time All-Star has excelled against San Diego, compiling a 6-1 record and a 1.56 ERA in 12 starts. Greinke permitted five runs over 36 2-3 innings in five meetings last season, allowing two or less in each.
He'll face an erratic Padres offense that set an MLB record by being shut out for the fifth time in the first 10 games with Thursday's 3-0 defeat in Philadelphia. San Diego (3-7) totaled one run and 13 hits in losing the final three of the four-game set.
The Padres erupted for 29 runs and 37 hits in consecutive wins at Colorado on April 8 and 9. They've mustered eight runs while batting .153 in the eight other games.
After striking out 13 times in Wednesday's 2-1 loss, San Diego had 16 more on Thursday as Philadelphia's Vince Velasquez tossed a three-hitter.
"It has a lot to do with who's on the mound, but it has a lot more to do with the level with which we choose to compete every single day," said Padres manager Andy Green, who served as Arizona's third base coach last season. "Regardless of how difficult it is, we've got to be more competitive."
Arizona's rotation has combined for a lackluster 6.29 ERA, though it received a solid 6 1-3 innings from Robbie Ray before the bullpen faltered in Thursday's 5-2 loss to Los Angeles. The Dodgers scored five times in the seventh to drop Arizona (3-7) to 1-2 on a 10-game trip.
Paul Goldschmidt is 0 for 8 since hitting a go-ahead solo homer in the eighth during Tuesday's 4-2 win. The slugger is 4 for 8 with a home run against James Shields (0-2, 4.85), who takes the mound Friday attempting to reverse an uncharacteristically slow start.
Shields, 23-10 with a 3.00 ERA in March and April over his 11-year career, has lost both his two 2016 assignments after being hurt by the long ball Sunday at Coors Field. The veteran right-hander allowed three solo homers and four runs over an otherwise effective seven innings in a 6-3 defeat.
Shields won his first seven decisions after signing a four-year contract with the Padres in February 2015. He was 2-2 with a 4.97 ERA in four starts against Arizona last season.