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Greinke unfazed by big Game 5 start

Greinke unfazed by big Game 5 start

Greinke unfazed by big Game 5 start
ST. LOUIS -- Zack Greinke's performances in his first two career postseason starts have left reason to wonder if he has been negatively affected by added pressure. But as he nears what will be his most important start to date, his words and mannerisms indicate he has felt no extra stress while pitching in the playoffs.

Tale of the Tape: Game 5
2011 Regular Season
Overall: 28 GS, 16-6, 3.83 ERA, 45 BB, 201 K
Overall: 32 GS, 13-7, 3.56 ERA, 50 BB, 156 K
Key stat: 10.54 strikeouts per 9 IP (1st in MLB, among qualified starters)
Key stat: Two shutouts (tied 2nd-most in National League)
At Busch Stadium
2011: 1 GS, 0-1, 2.57 ERA
Career: 3 GS, 2-1, 2.35 ERA
2011: 15 GS, 9-4, 2.55 ERA
Career: 30 GS, 16-9, 2.37 ERA
Against this opponent
2011: 4 GS, 3-1, 4.50 ERA
Career: 8 GS, 6-3, 4.31 ERA
2011: 3 GS, 1-1, 4.50 ERA
Career: 8 GS, 3-3, 4.12 ERA
Loves to face: Nick Punto, 4-for-19
Hates to face: Matt Holliday, 7-for-15
Loves to face: Jonathan Lucroy, 2-for-16
Hates to face: Corey Hart, 9-for-22
Game breakdown
Why he'll win: Brewers have won last six times he's started
Why he'll win: 3-1 with a 2.36 ERA in his last four home starts
Pitcher beware: 1-0 despite 8.18 ERA in two postseason starts
Pitcher beware: 0-2, 7.36 ERA in two postseason starts, incl. Game 1 loss
Bottom line: Just keep winning
Bottom line: Bounce back strong
"In all honesty, it's just another game, kind of," Greinke said. "I thought it might be a lot different, but it's really just a normal game, and you just get as ready as you can and do what you can."

As much as Greinke might try to downplay the significance of Friday night's start against the Cardinals in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, it's impossible for him to overlook the fact that it will be much different than any of the previous 30 starts he has made this year.

With Thursday night's 4-2 win in Game 4, the Brewers evened the series and set up the opportunity for Greinke to help them gain a one-game advantage before the best-of-seven series shifts back to Milwaukee for the final two games.

"They are all important," Greinke said before the Game 4 victory. "If it's 3-1, it's important. If it's 2-2, it's important. If we were up 3-1, it could be just as important. I can't really imagine a game situation, no matter what it is, that it wouldn't be an important game."

Unfortunately for the Brewers, Greinke will not have the luxury of making this important start in Milwaukee. They have won each of the 17 starts he has made at Miller Park this year, including the two shaky starts he has made during the postseason.

"Zack has kept us in games," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "That's what you ask from a starting pitcher, especially in the playoffs, but he has not been the lights-out guy that we have seen for quite a while."

Since finishing the regular season by posting a 2.68 ERA in his final seven starts, Greinke has totaled 11 innings in his two playoff starts and allowed 10 earned runs. A majority of that damage was incurred during Game 1 of the NLCS on Sunday, when he allowed the Cardinals six earned runs in six innings.

On the way to going 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA in three regular-season starts vs. St. Louis, he allowed a total of seven earned runs in 20 innings.

"[In my] first two games, I've given up some runs, but I've been really happy with how I've pitched," Greinke said. "So [Friday], I'm just going to do what I can do, and if I throw good, I'll be happy, happy with how I throw."

While Greinke's home/road splits have fueled discussion this year, the 4.70 ERA he has posted in 13 road starts would look much more respectable had he not allowed at least six runs in three different starts against the Pirates, Yankees and Cubs. He allowed two runs or fewer in eight of his other 10 road outings.

One of Greinke's strongest road starts came in St. Louis on Sept. 7, when he limited the Cardinals to two earned runs in seven innings. His only other career start at Busch Stadium proved even more impressive as he limited St. Louis to one run and two hits over seven innings on June 19, 2008.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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