ATLANTA — Zack Greinke is batting eighth for the Houston Astros against the Atlanta Braves in Game 4, the first pitcher not to bat ninth in the World Series since Babe Ruth of Boston Red Sox hit sixth in Game 4 in 1918, according to MLB.com
“That’s something that we’ve done for a while in the National League,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I actually got it from Tony La Russa, and it makes sense. He handles the bat. Also, we can get one guy on each inning and he goes at least two innings and his spot will come up, so I don’t have to burn a pinch hitter.”
Greinke, a 38-year-old right-hander, has a .225 career average with nine homers and 34 RBIs in 521 at-bats.
And in his first at-bat in the second inning, Greinke delivered a hit up the middle, becoming the oldest pitcher to deliver a hit in a World Series game since Roger Clemens did it in 2003.
“He’s a good hitter, but he thinks he’s Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron if you talk to him,” teammate Carlos Correa said. “He thinks he has a 1,000 career OPS. So I always mess with him. He’s like, `Oh, I’m a great hitter.' I’m like, yeah, you’re a 600 career OPS guy (.598). What are you talking about? But when it comes to the pitchers, he’s a really good hitter. So I’m looking forward to seeing him swing the bat today once again. He sounds like he’s really excited about it.”
Catcher Martín Maldonado, 1 for 8 in the Series and 3 for 37 (.081) in the postseason, hits ninth for Houston.
Ruth in that 1918 game was the only previous pitcher not to bat ninth. Then 23, he went 1 for 2 with a two-run triple and a sacrifice, and he got his second win of the Series by allowing two runs over eight innings against the Chicago Cubs.
Houston stayed with the same position players from its 2-0 Game 3 loss.
Second baseman Jose Altuve hit leadoff, followed by right fielder Michael Brantley, third baseman Alex Bregman, right fielder Yordan Álvarez, Correa at shortstop, center fielder Kyle Tucker, first baseman Yuli Gurriel, Greinke and Maldonado.