For most of Saturday night’s game, the Royals couldn’t do much at all against former Royal Zack Greinke and the Angels. Greinke threw 8.1 innings until Alex Gordon singled to left in the bottom of the ninth. At 109 pitches, Angels manager Mike Scioscia pulled his starter in favor of closer Ernesto Frieri.
His next pitch ended up landing behind the batter’s eye in center field, courtesy of Billy Butler. Butler’s 27th homer of the year tied it up. Earlier in the night, Butler had hit a ball to the wall in dead center but Kauffman Stadium contained it.
The heroics prevented Jeremy Guthrie‘s day from being in vain. Guthrie was just as impressive as Greinke, working eight innings and giving up just two runs while walking just one and giving up five hits. The Angels two runs came off of a Kendrys Morales homer in the fifth and a Torii Hunter single (that Jeff Francoeur lost in the lights) in the eighth. If the official scorer happens to turn the play into an error (it still went off his glove), only the homer would be an earned run.
Guthrie threw 107 pitches with 71 going for strikes. He only struck out two in the fast-paced game, but got eighteen (18!) outs on the ground. Only one out came in the air.
After the game, Ned Yost pointed to Gordon’s hit as being key in the comeback, since it chased Greinke from the game. That allowed Butler to face Frieri a day after he’d thrown 30 pitches in relief.
The Royals end up playing spoiler a lot this time of year, and this game was a crushing loss for the Angels. Their fans are not pleased with the decision to pull Greinke and I can sympathize. Strong starts followed by blown leads is something he probably got used to after his years in Kansas City. Butler put a charge into a ball earlier, so who knows, maybe the results would have been similar or the same. The “What if?” question has to be in LA fans’ minds. The Angels are five games behind Oakland for second in the AL West and are slipping out of wild card contention too.
The Royals 2-5 hitters were 6 for 24, which is about as good as you can do against Greinke. The only other hitter with a base hit was Francoeur. Eric Hosmer walked twice and stole a base.
Johnny Giavotella‘s throwing error in the top of the ninth was seconds away from history. Many have been tracking baseball’s march towards 500,000 errors, and Carlos Lee and Jose Reyes both committed errors in the top of the seventh for Miami moments before Giavotella’s errant throw. Even in mistakes, the Royals can’t win…