Zack Greinke is lined up to pitch the National League wild-card game and he will tune up for that contest with his final start of the regular-season when the Arizona Diamondbacks open a three-game series at the Kansas City Royals on Friday night. Some personal milestones will be within reach, including a noteworthy one for Arizona slugger J.D. Martinez.
Acquired from Detroit in mid-July, Martinez is on another binge with five homers in his last six games, giving him 16 in September to move within one of the major league record for the month initially set by Babe Ruth. “What can you continue to say about J.D.? He hits his 16th home run and you’re talking about historical records now,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “He’s locked in.” Greinke will be pitching in familiar surroundings — he played his first seven seasons and won a Cy Young Award with the Royals, who would need to sweep the series to make it five consecuive seasons without a losing record. It could mark the final series with Kansas City for outfielder Lorenzo Cain and corner infielders Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, who are all scheduled to become free agents.
TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, FSN Arizona, FSN Kansas City
PITCHING MATCHUP: Diamondbacks RH Zack Greinke (17-6, 3.18 ERA) vs. Royals RH Ian Kennedy (4-13, 5.50)
Greinke is coming off his worst outing of the season when he was rocked for eight runs on nine hits, including three homers, over four innings in a no-decision against Miami. That ended a superb stretch in which he was 3-0 and surrendered a combined six earned runs over his previous five runs. Alcides Escobar is 5-for-10 against Greinke, who is 4-5 with a 3.61 ERA in 13 starts away from home.
The season can’t end soon enough for Kennedy, who has gone more than two months without a victory and bunched all four of his wins in a nine-start stretch from June 16 to July 26. He lost his third straight start and dropped to 0-7 in his last 10 appearances, giving up five runs on seven hits over 5 1/3 innings at the White Sox last time out. He has yielded 33 homers, 14 in his last nine starts.
1. Martinez, who has 29 homers in 59 games with Arizona, is 12-for-25 with the five homers and 13 RBIs during a six-game hitting streak.
2. Royals C Salvador Perez exited Thursday’s game against Detroit due to left groin soreness.
3. Diamondbacks 3B Jake Lamb needs one homer to set a career high with 30.
PREDICTION: Diamondbacks 6, Royals 2