It looks like Zack Greinke's first child will be coming home before any runners do.
The Dodgers' All-Star pitcher has tossed 43 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, and was scheduled to start Friday night against the Mets at Citi Field. But at about 5 a.m. Thursday, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly got a call in his hotel room. Greinke told him he was flying back to Los Angeles because his wife, Emily, was going into labor.
"He may be able to get back for Saturday, he may be able to get back for Sunday," Mattingly said. "He may not be able to get back for either one. We're just hopeful that he'll be able to pitch this weekend."
Others are probably hopeful that he doesn't. Like the Mets . . . and Orel Hershiser.
With each zero that Greinke puts up, he moves one frame closer to Hershiser's record of 59 consecutive scoreless innings, set in 1988.
Greinke, who tossed eight shutout innings with 11 strikeouts on Sunday against the Nationals to drop his ERA to a league-best 1.30, has tossed six straight scoreless starts. He last allowed a run on June 13.
"If you get to know Zack, I don't think he really thinks about that," Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal said of the scoreless streak.
Greinke, the 2009 American League Cy Young winner, has seen his velocity progressively drop over the past few seasons. His fastball this year, according to FanGraphs, is averaged at a career low of 91.4 mph. But he has combated that with his slider, and by working the outside of the plate.
"He does work the outer half of the plate a lot," Grandal said. "He does a good job on both sides, not that he's overly aggressive throwing inside. But he does let the guys know that he will go inside."
Hershiser may have gotten a little worried when he saw that Greinke's next start was scheduled to be against the Mets. Entering Thursday night's game, they had scored the second-fewest runs in baseball and also had the lowest team batting average at .235. So they were probably happy that Baby Greinke decided to come.
Mattingly said he hadn't decided who will start in Greinke's place. He said the streak will not be a factor in determining Greinke's return, but did say the record is something he does think about a little while managing.
"You hate to have somebody else give up his runs," Mattingly said of going to the bullpen. "But knowing Zack, I know he wants to play it like you're trying to win."
As for when the new father's pursuit of history will continue, that remains to be seen.
"Anything can happen with the birth of a child," Mattingly said. "But at this point, we're kind of hopeful that he would be back this weekend at some point."
The Mets -- and Hershiser -- would probably prefer he take an extended paternity leave.