Zack Greinke hasn’t forgotten about the perceived lack of trust A.J. Hinch had in him last season.
You’ll remember that in the seventh inning in Game 7 of the 2019 World Series, Hinch pulled Greinke with a runner on and the Houston Astros up 2-1 — despite the fact Greinke had thrown just 80 pitches. The reliever, Will Harris, then allowed a two-run homer to Howie Kendrick, and the Washington Nationals ended up holding on to win the Fall Classic.
Greinke on Wednesday again was on the mound with Houston’s season on the line, but new manager Dusty Baker trusted him.
With the Astros leading the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 in the top of the sixth inning, Greinke wandered into trouble. The Astros at the time trailed the series 3-0, so there was zero room for error, and Baker called a mound visit after Greinke put two runners on with Randy Arozarena stepping in.
But instead of pulling the pitcher, Baker kept him in and Greinke struck Arozarena out for the second out. Then with the bases loaded two batters later, Greinke punched out Mike Brosseau to end the inning.
Crisis averted. The Astros would go on to win 4-3 to keep the series and their season alive.
The move by Baker was in stark contrast to Hinch, and that prompted Greinke, ever outspoken, to take a clear shot at the former skipper.
“I was just saying it was nice having someone have confidence in me,” Greinke said, via ESPN. “Because since I’ve been here, they haven’t seemed to have confidence in my ability. So it was nice having that happen in an important time like that.”
It was certainly a gamble on Baker’s part but one that ended up looking like a stroke of genius.