Meche fans 10 as Royals trip Tribe
Righty sets personal season mark for K's, allows three hits
KANSAS CITY -- There was no stopping Gil Meche this time.
Meche, who had gone five straight starts without a victory, rectified that on Saturday night by dominating the Cleveland Indians, 3-1, for 18,795 fans on Hispanic Heritage Night at Kauffman Stadium.
On a damp, 63-degree evening, Meche gave up just three hits in his seven innings. And he had his strikeout pitch working overtime. Meche fanned 10 and reached 158 strikeouts for the season, a personal high.
Going into this game, Meche was just 3-7 with a 5.20 ERA in 17 starts against the Indians.
"They've had my number for a long time. Even my first start against them this year, they beat me up pretty bad," Meche said.
"I don't know if it's figuring out how to pitch 'em or having really good stuff on the days I face 'em. But if you face guys over and over, you start to get a feel for 'em."
This was his fifth start this season against the Tribe and, in the first outing, he was slammed for eight runs. But he's beaten them twice since.
"Meche was the story," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "He was moving his fastball around effectively. I thought he did a really good job against us."
Royals pitching coach Bob McClure and assistant athletic trainer Frank Kyte scurried to the mound to check on Meche after he walked Ryan Garko with two outs in the seventh. He had pulled his back slightly on the last pitch of the sixth inning.
"They probably thought I was trying to favor it a little bit," he said.
No problem, though, and he finished with a flourish -- getting Kelly Shoppach for his 10th strikeout, matching his career high.
"I'm not really trying to get 'em," Meche said. "I've thrown a lot more changeups to righties, which has been a huge pitch. And I haven't done that in the past."
He also lowered his ERA to 3.96, the first time it's been under 4.00 all season.
"I've got to keep it there now," he said.
This was the Royals' fourth victory in five September, and maybe they're onto something. They won just seven games in all of August.
They had just enough firepower against left-hander Zach Jackson, scoring all three runs after two outs in the second inning. There were singles by Ryan Shealy and Mark Teahen, then an RBI single by Esteban German and a two-run blooper by David DeJesus.
"I wanted to get aggressive because I knew he was [throwing] that little cutter," DeJesus said, "and I got just enough of it to get it over the infield. Got the two runs, and those are the two runs that we needed to win the game."
DeJesus had three hits and Teahen, marking his 27th birthday, had two. The only time Jackson got Teahen out came on an unusual sequence in the fourth. Plate umpire Dan Iassogna ruled that Teahen was hit by a 1-2 pitch and he trotted to first base. On appeal, though, third-base ump Bill Hohn said Teahen had swung and was out on a strikeout.
"I probably won't get out like that ever again," Teahen said. "It was a little birthday gift from the umpiring crew."
The only run off Meche came in the fifth inning, when Shin-Soo Choo tripled to the center-field wall and scored on Garko's sacrifice fly. DeJesus almost caught Choo's drive.
"It hit the side of my glove and it was behind me," DeJesus said.
Fittingly, as "Viva Los Royals" was celebrated at the stadium, a perfect finish was provided by Royals relievers Ramon Ramirez and Joakim Soria.
Ramirez, from the Dominican Republic, pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Soria, from Mexico, did likewise in the ninth for his 35th save.
In his previous outing against the Indians, Soria had been banged around for three runs, a blown save and a loss.
"I don't think about that. I just think about doing my best," he said. "Somebody said a closer has to have a short memory, so I don't care about that. I keep going."
With a heavy influx from the Hispanic community, Soria noticed it got loud in the late innings.
There was noise, too, when the featured entertainer, pop singer Christian Castro, chucked the first pitch to Royals slugger Jose Guillen.
"He's a pretty famous guy. Maybe a lot of people don't recognize him in Kansas City, but he's pretty big in all the Latin American countries," Guillen said.
Castro threw a strike. Apparently, he set the pattern for Meche.
"It's a great day," Guillen said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.