Zack Greinke apparently is done providing bulletin-board material.
Greinke rekindled some animosity between Milwaukee and St. Louis before the NL championship series with comments about Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, saying his Brewers teammates don’t much like the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner.
“They think his presence, his attitude out there sometimes is like a phony attitude,” Greinke said Saturday. “And then he yells at people. He just stares people down and stuff. And most pitchers just don’t do that.”
Greinke, set to start Game 5 for Milwaukee today, said Thursday that he caught flak from his own wife about those comments. Otherwise, he was in no mood to revisit them.
“My wife likes to read stuff and then she gets mad, and she’s mad that I said it,” Greinke said. “But it just happened and don’t need to talk about it anymore.”
POWER SURGE — Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz hit his fifth home run of the American League championship series in Game 5 at Detroit, setting a record for an LCS.
“That’s special, but it will mean a lot more if we win the series,” Cruz said.
On an 0-2 count, Cruz sent a 100 mph fastball from Justin Verlander to left field with a runner on in the eighth inning Thursday to pull Texas within three runs. It was Verlander’s 133rd and final pitch of the game.
The Tigers held on to win 7-5, cutting the Rangers’ lead to 3-2 in the best-of-seven series. Game 6 is Saturday in Texas.
The home run was down the left-field line, and Cruz stood near the plate to follow the ball. Verlander said he had no problem with Cruz watching whether it would land fair or foul.
“You’ve got to be careful of that guy now,” Verlander said.
Cruz became the fifth player to hit five homers in a postseason series. Reggie Jackson, Ken Griffey Jr., Juan Gonzalez and Chase Utley were the others.
Jackson (1977) and Utley (2009) accomplished the feat in the World Series. Gonzalez did it in only four games for the Rangers in the 1996 division series against the New York Yankees.
Cruz’s teammate in Texas, Josh Hamilton, hit four homers in the ALCS last year against the Yankees.
FREE PASS — Both managers in the NL championship series have been reluctant to let the big hitters swing away.
Albert Pujols of the Cardinals was intentionally walked in back-to-back plate appearances Wednesday during St. Louis’ 4-3 win in Game 3. The strategy by Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke worked: Cardinals cleanup hitter Matt Holliday struck out both times.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa chose to walk Milwaukee slugger Prince Fielder in the fifth inning of the same game with a runner on second and two outs, putting potential go-ahead run on base. That strategy worked, too, when Chris Carpenter struck out Rickie Weeks.
The strategy for Pujols ran counter to how he was generally treated this season during what for him was a down year — .299 with 37 home runs and 99 RBIs. After leading the NL with 34, 44 and 38 intentional walks in the previous three seasons, Pujols received just 15 this year. That was due in large part to having Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman behind him.
In fact, Berkman, with 17 intentional walks, led St. Louis.
Then again, Pujols is on a postseason tear. Over the past two games before Thursday he was 6 for 7 with six RBIs and the two intentional walks.
“If there’s an open base, and two outs, it kind of makes sense” to walk Pujols, said Zack Greinke, Milwaukee’s scheduled Game 5 starter.
Fielder led the NL with 32 intentional walks. He already had three home runs in the postseason, including long balls in both NLCS games in Milwaukee. The Cardinals had intentionally walked him twice.
“Well, it’s an interesting strategic call,” La Russa said, noting that sometimes it’s better to bait an overeager hitter with pitches out of the strike zone.
“Of course, you can take advantage of a hitter who wants to drive in a run, so they will chase,” he added. “Sometimes you’ll get an out rather than just give up the base.”
Roenicke said the decision on an intentional walk can be gut-wrenching for a manager.
“It does eat you up at times,” he explained. “It eats you up more when you see the results maybe of a guy driving one in the gap or — we had a grand slam against us earlier in the playoffs against Arizona.”
REMEMBERING MLK — Major League Baseball has donated $1 million to support the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
MLB announced the gift on Thursday. The memorial is to be dedicated on Sunday.
“We are proud to support the memorial in the spirit of Jackie Robinson and all the pillars of our national pastime,” Commissioner Bud Selig said.
CLEANUP CREW — A day after Matt Holliday twice failed to make the Brewers pay for intentionally walking Albert Pujols, Holliday was moved down to fifth in the Cardinals’ lineup.
St. Louis manager Tony La Russa gave David Freese, who was leading the team with 11 RBIs in the postseason, a shot at cleanup. La Russa also tried to deflect pressure away from Holliday, who hadn’t regained his stroke since returning from an injury to his right middle finger.
Holliday, however, hit a solo homer to put the Cardinals ahead in Game 4 of the NL championship series.
Prior to Thursday night’s game, Holliday was batting .263 in the postseason with no extra-base hits, two RBIs and eight strikeouts — and he stranded five runners in Game 3. He grounded out with a man on second to end the second inning and struck out with two on in the fourth and sixth after Pujols was walked.
La Russa doesn’t think the injury is bothering Holliday, just his timing.
“He’s caught between a rock and a hard place. He’s missed some key at-bats,” La Russa said. “Here he is trying to get his stroke and his timing in the most pressure you feel all season, and it’s a little bit unfair.”
Holliday batted cleanup 99 times during the regular season, Freese just three times.