Greinke claims eighth win of season

Greinke claims eighth win of season

KANSAS CITY -- Nothing like a strong dose of Zack Greinke to make the Royals feel better.

Greinke went the distance for his eighth victory as Kansas City knocked off the first-place Tigers, 6-1, with 16,366 fans up and cheering every pitch in the ninth inning Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

He pitched his fifth complete game in 10 starts and his Major League-leading ERA barely budged up to 0.84. With an 8-1 record, he joined Toronto's Roy Halladay as the Majors' biggest winner.

What better tonic for a team that had won just four of 16 games since a six-game winning streak ended May 8?

By Greinke's own estimation, he couldn't have been much better.

"It was one of those days you have when almost everything's working, and I was like, 'Just keep it right there. They can't do too much with you if you keep it like that,'" he said.

In fact, Greinke was a bit surprised that the Tigers even scored a run in the first inning. His first six pitches were strikes, he struck out leadoff batter Curtis Granderson and then Placido Polanco stuck his bat out on a 2-2 slider and punched a soft double just fair down the left-field line. On a 2-1 pitch to Magglio Ordonez, Greinke got a perfect fastball in but Ordonez brought his hands in and got a RBI single up the middle.

But Greinke induced Miguel Cabrera, the Majors' leading hitter, to roll into a double play. That was it for Detroit.

"You've got to grind your fanny off each at-bat," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He's too good. We fought, but he got us. He was better than we were tonight."

Greinke gave up six hits, was helped by three double plays and had eight strikeouts. Walks? Naw. Not one.

"I wasn't really worried about walking anybody at any time," he said.

So good was his control that he'd nonchalantly throw a called ball to run the count full with no thought that he'd might throw ball four. If Greinke was behind in the count, heck, he'd throw any ol' pitch. Didn't matter -- no walks were on his agenda.

"When you do that, it makes pitching a lot easier and hitting a lot harder, but it's not often when you can do that," Greinke said.

It's not often, either, that the Royals come up with six runs. They hadn't scored that many in a week.

After Edwin Jackson had thrown zeros for five innings, allowing just Mark Teahen's double, the Royals got busy in the sixth. Miguel Olivo led off with a single and Jackson obligingly helped by throwing away Luis Hernandez's sacrifice bunt.

Mitch Maier, in the game because Coco Crisp left with a sore shoulder, came up and smacked a two-run single to right field.

"It's always nice to help the team win," Maier said. "I try to stay ready down there in the tunnel all game, and you never know, days like this happen."

Maier also scored on Jose Guillen's single for a 3-1 lead.

In the seventh, Jackson made another wild throw on a pickoff try that contributed to another unearned run. Guillen also banged a home run, his fourth, to lead off the two-run eighth inning against reliever Brandon Lyon.

This victory came right after a 13-1 shellacking, and Greinke, watching from the dugout, had learned by watching Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander.

"It helped me a lot today," Greinke said. "Because I thought you could throw an All-Star team up against him yesterday and they're not going to score a run on him because his plan is so good."

What Greinke saw Verlander do was just stick with his best stuff and not try anything fancy. So he resolved to follow suit.

"Do what you do and stop thinking so much," is the way Greinke put it.

Even after the Tigers scored their first-inning run, Greinke informed pitching coach Bob McClure that he was ready to go the distance, although there was one little shred of doubt.

"I told Mac, 'I think I should have at least a complete game today' the way I was throwing but they put up a run on the board the first inning," Greinke said. "I was like, 'Maybe these guys are really locked in.'"

He was thinking that because the Tigers had worked over Gil Meche pretty thoroughly on Monday.

But Greinke rolled along. His only other peril came in the fourth, when Polanco and Cabrera each singled around a strikeout of Ordonez. But Greinke got Jeff Larish to rap into a double play.

"He's one of the very few guys that I've ever seen that can manipulate the ball the way that he wants it. He can take anywhere from a cutter to a curveball and make it as big as he wants," the Tigers' Brandon Inge said.

  "If a guy gets ahead, he can use all of his pitches, and he makes a hitter start thinking a little bit more."

By the eighth inning, Greinke had used 102 pitches, but there was no action in the Royals' bullpen. Oh, Juan Cruz was spotted getting up long enough to throw a pitch or two, but he quickly sat down.

Manager Trey Hillman consulted with Greinke about pitching the ninth.

"I was like, 'I feel great, I feel as good as I could feel,'" Greinke said. "There really wasn't a question in my mind. I don't know if he was trying to make a decision or if he was just asking to be polite."

Hillman politely let Greinke pitch the ninth, and it went 1-2-3 and over. With the crowd on its feet and roaring, Greinke struck out Ordonez on a weak swing to end it.

"He's just so good that you have to fight, and we fought," Leyland said.

But lost.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.