The Los Angeles Dodgers' starting rotation has been headlined by no-hitters from Clayton Kershaw and Josh Beckett.
Another Dodgers pitcher, Zack Grienke, made a little history of his own in a Friday night win over the San Francisco Giants.
In the third inning of the 8-1 Los Angeles win, Grienke struck out four Giants batters. That's right — four. That's right again — it only takes three outs to retired the side in an inning.
Grienke struck out Hector Sanchez and Tim Lincecum to record the first two outs of the inning, then he struck out Hunter Pence on a swinging strike. The ball skipped past catcher A.J. Ellis, allowing Pence to run to first safely.
The strike out counts, but the out is not officially recorded.
The next batter, Gregor Blanco, struck out swinging on a pitch similar to the last one thrown to Pence. The ball hit the dirt outside of the batters box and Blanco ran to first. Ellis was able to field the ball cleanly, though, and threw out Blanco at first base to record the final out of the inning.
Grienke was credited with four strikeouts. He's the fifth Dodgers starter to record such a feat. The last Los Angeles pitcher to earn four strikeouts in an inning was Brad Penny in 2006.
Greinke improved to 12-6 on the year after losing his past two starts. He tossed seven innings of four-hit ball, striking out 10 and walking one. But the biggest accomplishment of the night was getting out of the first inning unscathed. He sent down the first two batters, walked one and retired the next without any damage.
He allowed four runs in the first inning in his last start on July 19 in St. Louis.
"It feels like the last two months, the first inning is always the toughest," Greinke told the News-Press. "I need to find a way to be better right from the get-go."
Grienke's performance on Friday, in which he took a no-hitter into the fourth inning, may have been overshadowed by Yasiel Puig dazzling form on the base paths.
Puig made his first start of the season in centerfield in the win, but it was unclear if he would be playing at all. Puig missed his last three starts due to a minor hand injury. The customary right fielder showed no signs of weakness as he ripped three triples against the Giants.
Puig hit his third triple of the game in the sixth inning to tie a 113-year-old franchise record, set by Jimmy Sheckard, who accomplished the feat on Opening Day 1901.
The Cuba-native added a double in the rout. Two other Dodgers, Dee Gordon and Matt Kemp, ripped triples. Puig now has eight triples on the year, two were hit off of Giants starter Tim Lincecum, who lasted just four innings in the start giving up six runs on nine hits.
Puig improved his batting average to .315 and didn't miss a beat, although he missed the Dodgers last three game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The radical move to insert Puig back into the lineup, albeit in centerfield, may not be a bad idea in future games, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times.
"With his speed and aggressiveness, Puig would seem a natural center fielder," Dilbeck said in the July 23 article. "...he could easily prove one of the best in center, the key outfield spot."
The win was surely action-packed for the Dodgers. Four players recorded multi-hits and Chris Perez and Paul Maholm secured Grienke's spectacular start. It's a solid opening to a key series with the National League West Division Giants, who still lead Los Angeles by a half game in the standings.
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