Zack Greinke put up eight strong innings and Brayan Pena took advantage of a rare start to lead the Royals on to victory over Toronto, showing a short memory after the 13-1 drubbing on Tuesday. The win gave the Royals their fifth series win in their last seven (though they were swept in the two series they’d lost).
Greinke struck out nine and walked none over eight innings while also getting ten ground ball outs. He threw 68 of his 105 pitches for strikes and gave up only six hits. Toronto scored on two doubles in the third inning and on three singles in the seventh. The only other baserunner against Greinke came on a Vernon Wells single in the second inning. Altogether, Greinke had five perfect innings. Joakim Soria tapdanced around two one-out singles in the ninth to nail down the save.
Now that’s what I’m talking about.
On a day that looked more like lineup experimentation (Wilson Betemit hit cleanup and played left field while Scott Podsednik, David DeJesus and Jason Kendall got the day off), the Royals turned up with two crooked numbers in the third and fifth innings. In the fifth, they turned three extra base hits and a Pena single into three runs, while also taking advantage of a throwing error and wild pitch. The Royals were 4-10 with runners in scoring position and hit five extra base hits, triples by Mike Aviles and Yuniesky Betancourt and a double each by Billy Butler, Jose Guillen and Brayan Pena.
I’m very happy for Pena’s performance. So much has been made of Jason Kendall‘s playing time in 2010, so to see him take advantage of a start is very nice. Pena went 3-4 and stole a base while driving in a run.
Then there’s that Greinke fellow. After walking four against Oakland and giving up five runs (though only two earned), the concern was how Greinke’s shoulder was going to be after missing a start before the All-Star break. Greinke’s last three innings against the A’s were a lot smoother than his first three, so it seems that it was just a lack of sharpness from nine days of rest and not any kind of physical issue that led to his human outing. That’s a great sign, as the rest of the rotation has been terribly inconsistent since May and the bullpen is starting to show some more cracks than they had in June.