PHOENIX (AP) — Zack Greinke left Los Angeles for a big payday in the desert. Now Arizona wants the ex-Dodger to prove his worth.
The Diamondbacks are in dire need of a strong performance from the 17-game winner to help prevent Los Angeles from sweeping them out of their National League Division Series.
Greinke will be on the mound when the best-of-five series shifts to Arizona for Game 3 on Monday night after the Dodgers raked Diamondbacks pitching to take the first two games in Los Angeles.
Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said there’s no one he’d rather have there.
“He’s fearless. He’s on the attack. He understands strengths and limitations,” Lovullo said at his Sunday news conference. “So I feel like because he’s been our guy all year long and because I know what I know about him, I couldn’t think of a better guy to go out and execute tomorrow.”
The Dodgers counter with Yu Darvish (10-12, 3.86 ERA), a trade deadline acquisition from Texas.
Darvish made nine starts for Los Angeles, going 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA. The 6-foot-5 Japanese right-hander was at his best at the end, going 2-0 in his final three regular-season starts, giving up just one run in 19 1/3 innings.
“When he’s on, he’s really good,” Lovullo said. “When he’s not, he’s beatable.”
Darvish’s second start after the trade was at Arizona, where he went seven innings, allowing two runs and five hits and striking out 10 to get the win in an 8-6 Dodger victory.
He has changed his mechanics since arriving in Los Angeles.
“I think it will benefit me because they haven’t seen me pitch the way I do now,” Darvish said after the team arrived Sunday night. “How I pitch is different.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts knows how good Arizona can be at home.
“They kind of swarm you,” he said. “Momentum starts going their way and they get really aggressive. They’re tough.”
The Diamondbacks were 52-29 at home this season, and Greinke was particularly sharp there. The right-hander was 13-1 in 18 starts at Chase Field with a 2.76 ERA, 131 strikeouts and 23 walks.
But his latest outing there, in the NL wild-card game last Wednesday, was far from his best. After three scoreless innings, the Rockies rang up four runs and Greinke never made it out of the fourth.
The Dodgers battered Arizona for 17 runs and 24 hits in the series’ first two games.
“They wait for pitches to hit and then it’s an ideal way of hitting,” Greinke said. “You just look for a pitch to hit. If you get it, you hit it as hard as you can. … I mean, it’s pretty simple, but it’s harder to do than it sounds.”
In the second year of a $206.5 million, six-year contract, Greinke was 1-2 with a 3.65 ERA in four starts against Los Angeles this year.
Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner are leading the Dodgers postseason offensive surge.
Puig, in the eighth spot of the batting order, is 5 for 9, including a double and triple, and has driven in four. Turner is 4 for 8 with a home run and five RBIs.
The Diamondbacks will welcome a loud, friendly crowd after the hostility of Dodger Stadium. The Chase Field throng was exceptionally boisterous in Arizona’s 11-8 wild-card win over Colorado.
Arizona was 6-3 at home against the Dodgers, including a three-game sweep in September. But the Diamondbacks didn’t resemble that team in the first two NLDS games.
If there is a Game 4, Lovullo said, lefty Patrick Corbin will get the start. That, of course, is meaningless unless Arizona wins Monday.
“We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” said the Diamondbacks’ Daniel Descalso, a veteran of 47 playoff games. “Right now we have to win tomorrow. That’s all that matters to us. We have Zack on the mound. We love it when Zack pitches. He’s our stopper. He’s our ace.”
A few years ago, the Dodgers clinched the NL West in Arizona and greatly miffed some of the locals by celebrating in the Chase Field swimming pool. They needn’t worry this year.
“That won’t happen,” Roberts said. “‘We have bigger goals than to jump into a swimming pool.”