Game Date: April 14, 2008
Royals 5, Mariners 1 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (3-0), LP: Washburn (1-2)
Royal Home Runs: Butler (1), Olivo (1)
Royals Record: 8-5
I don't think anybody expected Zack Greinke to start the season this well, but at the same time, Royals' fans have known that Greinke has the ability to dominate teams for some time, and at some point, we all expected him to do just that. Three starts into the season, he's 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA. He tossed a complete game last night, giving up just five hits, and he hardly looked like he was trying, and that's meant to be a compliment.
It seems that he's finally been convinced that his stuff is good enough to get hitters out. He has faith in his defense and seems perfectly content to pitch to contact. But with his stuff, even pitching to contact is on his terms. I was especially impressed with his curve ball last night. I don't know how many times he threw it to start an at bat, but he did so several times and he had guys bailing out even though it was over the plate.
The scary part for the opposition? Greinke is still learning. Listen to what he said after the game: "One thing I noticed when Bannister was pitching, is he kept the ball down really well. When he misses over the plate, he doesn’t miss thigh-thigh. He misses at the knees or shins. That's what I focused on this time."
Of course, even though the Royals have the best ERA (2.46) in the major leagues right now, ESPN had to take a shot at the rotation, stating that after Bannister and Greinke, "Kansas City is in trouble." As if Gil Meche is going to end the season with an ERA over 7.00; as if John Bale and Brett Tomko are going to remain in the rotation if they don't perform better; and as if the Royals don't have other options.
Billy Butler continued his hitting streak in a nice fashion, clobbering his first home run of the season in the second inning. Later in the inning, Miguel Olivo smashed a two-run home run over the left center field wall and the Royals were up 3-0. Greinke took a 5-1 lead into the eighth when Yuniesky Betancourt hit a blast to left field. Mark Teahen made a great read on the ball and went up over the wall and took a two-run home run away from Betancourt. The Mariners didn't threaten after that.
David DeJesus made his return to the lineup for the first time since opening day. He was 1-for-4 with an RBI and looked to be running just fine. I liked what Hillman did with the lineup last night when he put Olivo in as the DH. Olivo hits lefties well and he proved that again last night, going 3-for-4 with 2 RBI and 2 R. And how about Tony Pena? I was on his case yesterday for having an average lower than the cost of a postage stamp, and he ended up with two hits, but did you see how he got the second one? He failed to get a sacrifice bunt down twice before ht hit a little flare to right field with two strikes. I'm guessing he'll be having a little talk with Hillman about that AB.
The Royals play the final game of the series in Seattle this evening. John Bale (0-2, 5.84) goes up against former Royal Miguel Batista (0-2, 6.00). Bale is 0-0 in his career against the Mariners with a 4.50 ERA in 4.0 IP. Batista is 1-0 in his career against the Royals with a 0.00 ERA in 3.1 IP.