Sunday, January 17, 2010

Zack Greinke: Start 5 of 33 in 2009

Royal Reflections is reliving all 33 of Zack Greinke’s 2009 starts in addition to his All-Star game appearance as we head into Spring Training 2010.

Game Date: April 29, 2009  
Toronto @ Kansas City 
Royals 11, Blue Jays 3 / Box Score
WP: Greinke (5-0) LP: Tallet (3-3)


Since Zack Greinke’s last start on April 24, we’ve learned that he’s going to be on the cover of SI next week, which sends an odd feeling through Kansas City because we are not accustomed to such things. It's been a while. But Royals fans can’t stop smiling – even if it has been raining for hours in Kansas City and Greinke’s fifth start of the season has been delayed by 31 minutes.

The temperature is 61 degrees at game time and there is almost no wind – 2 mph, blowing in from right field. Only 10,619 fans have shown up at Kauffman Stadium with bad weather in the area. Zack is 1-3 against the Blue Jays in his career coming into the game with a 5.12 ERA. He hasn’t defeated the Blue Jays since April, 2007.

But this isn’t the same Zack Greinke. He still hasn’t give up an earned run yet this season.

Marco Scutaro leads off the game with a ball in the gap to right center field. Coco Crisp fields it in the wet grass and Scutaro ends up at second base. Greinke gets ahead of Aaron Hill 1-2 and he throws an off speed pitch that Hill swings and misses for the first out of the inning. Alex Rios comes up next. Greinke starts him with a slider that Rios watches for strike one. Then he brings the heat on the outside corner and Rios can’t check his swing, strike two.

Greinke is a little fidgety so far this evening. He seems to be processing. The Blue Jays are aggressive with Greinke’s fastball so he’s making adjustments by changing speeds 

After three more pitches, Greinke goes down and in with an off speed pitch and gets Rios to swing rather meekly and Greinke has his second strike out. Vernon Wells takes strike one looking – a slow curve. Greinke throws an 85 mph pitch that Wells swings and misses. When the count runs to 2-2, Miguel Olivo goes out to talk to Greinke. Greinke comes at Wells with a slider, which Wells dumps into center field to drive in Scutaro. Blue Jays lead 1-0. That is Greinke’s first earned run of the season.

Blue Jays vs. Royals
[An ERA of 0.30 is displayed following Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Zack Greinke's giving up an RBI single to the Toronto Blue Jays' Vernon Wells during the game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, Wednesday, April 29, 2009. The earned run broke a six game streak for Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Zack Greinke of not allowing an earned run. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/MCT) Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom / Content © 2010 Newscom All rights reserved.]
Greinke doesn’t seem phased though. He gets ahead of Adam Lind 0-2. A few Royals’ fans begin to change, “Let’s go Royals!” Greinke strikes out Lind looking and the inning is finally over.

The Royals go down in order in the bottom of the first inning.

Scott Rolen leads off the second inning and Greinke strikes him out swinging with an off speed pitch. Lyle Overbay lofts a lazy fly ball to center field for out number two. Rod Barajas gets a 1-1 pitch he likes and he doubles down the left field line, actually landing on the line. Willie Bloomquist is playing left field. He tosses the ball back into the infield. But Greinke gets Travis Snider to pop up a change up and the inning is over.

With one out in the Royals’ half of the inning, Billy Butler gets a pitch on the outside corner and he goes with it, launching it to right center field. It clears the wall to tie the game 1-1.

In the third inning, Greinke continues to depend on his off speed stuff, knowing that the Blue Jays are hacking at his fastball. He walks Scutaro to lead off the inning and Aaron Hill bloops a single to center and the Blue Jays have runners at the corners with no outs. Greinke gets Rios to hit a ground ball to Mark Teahen at third base. Teahen allows Scutaro to score as he tries to turn two. The Royals get two and Wells grounds out to Teahen to end the inning. The Blue Jays lead 2-1.

Butler doubles in two runs in the third inning and Mike Jacobs singles in Butler. The Royals lead 4-2 after three innings.

Greinke walks Lind to start the inning and falls behind Scott Rollen 2-0 before getting him to fly out to left. Greinke gets out of the inning, getting Overbay to ground into a fielder’s choice and Barajas to pop out to short.

In the bottom of the fourth, Willie Bloomquist walks with two outs and Teahen crushes the first pitch he sees to center field for a two-run home run. It’s his third home run of the season. The Royals now lead 6-2.

Snider leads off the fifth inning and Greinke strikes him out swinging for his fifth strike out of the game. Scutaro flies out to right. Greinke’s trying to work his first 1-2-3 inning of the night, but Hill singles to left field with two outs. Greinke strikes out Rios though to end the inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, Butler homers to left, Aviles triples in two runs and Aviles scores on a passed ball. The Royals lead 10-2 and Greinke is on his way to winning his fifth consecutive start.

Greinke doesn’t give up any more hits over the next two innings and Hillman removes him from the game after the seventh inning.

The Royals go on to win rather easily, improving to 11-10 on the season.

What Greinke said:
“I will take it every start,” Greinke said. “Even today. I mean, it’s a win. We all played well, which is kind of important. The whole team is starting to play a little better lately. It was just a great all-round game.
“Yeah, they scored two runs, but they’re going to score runs.”
What players/managers said:
“He was able to throw every pitch for a strike,” Vernon Wells said. “He keeps you off balance. He’ll blow you away with a 95 [mph] if he wants to. He was dominant, as he has been all year.”
What bloggers said:
“I've said it before, but I almost can’t believe that this guy is a Royal. He’s probably the best baseball player on the planet right now and he’s ours. Evidently Zack’s upcoming SI appearance resonated with many of you for perhaps the same reason. Tonight, Greinke was Greinkean (7 IP: 5 Hs, 2 BBs & 8Ks) and improved to a media-important 5-0 on the year. I can’t wait for a interleague play, because you know Zack has a game in him in which he’ll pitch great for eight innings, and go 2-3 with a homer. It's going to happen.” (Royals Review)

“Going back to last season, Greinke has actually won eight starts in a row. This ties a franchise record previously accomplished by three pitchers: David Cone in his Cy Young season of 1994, Bret Saberhagen in his Cy Young season of 1989 … and Rich Gale in his decidedly un-Cy Young season of 1980. (I should point out that Saberhagen won eight straight starts from July 26th to August 31st that year … and then won six straight starts from September 9th to September 30th. Saberhagen won 14 games in 15 starts – not 15 decisions, 15 starts – with a 1.52 ERA over that span. I don’t know if Greinke is pitching better than anyone in a Royals uniform ever has – but at least I know who set the bar he’s trying to clear.)” (Rany on the Royals)

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