What better way to kick off the annual I-70 series than to send Zack Greinke to the mound? It’s looking like Greinke’s regaining his 2009 form, as he headed into the game seeking his third straight quality start against a potent Cardinals lineup.
Former Royal Jeff Suppan took the hill on the other side, the type of wily veteran starter that usually gives the Royals fits. Something had to give.
Greinke worked around a tight spot in the sixth inning, inducing a double play from Ryan Ludwick to end the inning and dancing around a bases loaded situation. In the eighth, Greinke had two men on and Matt Holiday up and the threat of Albert Pujols behind him but worked out of the jam again.
In the ninth, Ludwick reached on a catcher’s interference that otherwise would have been the first out and after eight shutout innings, Greinke gave up a double to put runners on second and third with no outs, giving way to Joakim Soria to preserve the win. Both inherited runners scored, though only one was earned.
Greinke was smooth, working quickly and getting the Cardinals to keep the ball in play. Over his eight innings, Greinke only threw 106 pitches, an average just above 13 an inning. Even better, Greinke kept the ball on the ground, getting 16 outs as a result of groundballs while striking out six. Historically, Greinke’s always been a flyball pitcher, so I wouldn’t read too much into this one game, but it’s still a strong positive sign, and one of the reasons Greinke was able to shut down the meat of the Cardinals lineup (Pujols, Holliday and Ludwick were a combined 0-10).
Offensively, the Royals threw together some extra base hits in the bottom of the third to get three runs. The top of the order did what was expected of it, as Scott Podsednik turned a hit down the line into a triple and scored on Jason Kendall‘s single. After a David DeJesus chopper to third, Kendall moved up to second and scored on a Billy Butler double. Jose Guillen singled to drive in Butler and extend his career-best hitting streak to 19 games.
The Royals struck first in the series and send Kyle Davies to the mound against Blake Hawksworth (which sounds like the cocky preppy superstar on the rich team that takes on the “scrappy wrong-side-of-town team of middle school kids” coached by a bitter Charlie Sheen). The Royals move to 31-43 on the year and are four games ahead of Cleveland to safely sit in fourth place in the American League Central.
Stars of the Game
Zack Greinke, 8+ IP, 1 ER, 6 K, 2 BB, 106 pitches
Scott Podsednik, 3-4, triple, run scored
Alberto Callaspo, 3-3, walked in only other plate appearance
Jose Guillen, 2-4, RBI
Billy Butler, 1-4, RBI double, run scored