(BaseballStL) -- Zack Greinke admitted he was nervous when the Cardinals had the bases loaded with no outs in the first inning of Game 5 of the NLCS Wednesday.
With his nerves working early, Greinke used his curveball to strike out Matt Adams, which had to be blocked by catcher A.J. Ellis, and then again to induce an inning-ending double play from Yadier Molina to keep the Cardinals off the board early.
“Took first pitch, and then I don't really remember, and then threw a curveball down. Once I got into that situation, I could go for a strikeout,” Greinke said of Adams’ at-bat. “But then Molina, I know if you hit on the ground there is a good chance it's either going to be a hit or a double play. Risky going in, bases loaded because he could do some damage. It worked out.”
The 20-pitch first inning wasn’t his only bout with danger on Wednesday.
After a 10-pitch second inning, the Cardinals managed to get to Greinke for two runs, including a RBI triple from Carlos Beltran and RBI double from Matt Holliday, in the third inning. Adams reached on an infield single, but again Molina grounded into a double play with a runner on third to end the threat.
The Cardinals began to adjust again to Greinke during the 31-pitch third inning.
“Them and the Twins are the two teams that make adjustments faster than any other team,” Greinke said. “It's always a mental battle, a physical and mental battle against them, trying to make adjustments before they do. I don't know if that was the case, but that was my mindset.”
The two runs would be the only blemish to Greinke’s stat line as he sat down the next 13 batters faced before exiting the game after the seventh inning.
Greinke’s final line read: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO (104 pitches / 63 strikes)
Greinke’s performance on Wednesday was exactly what the Dodgers needed to stay alive and send the series back to St. Louis. Now the Dodgers hand the ball over to Clayton Kershaw to carry Greinke’s momentum into a do-or-die Game 6.
Greinke is also hopeful he will be available out of the bullpen if the series reaches Game 7.