Meche throws complete-game four-hitter
Royals ace channels inner Soria to finish off D-backs
KANSAS CITY -- No way that Gil Meche was not going to finish out this 5-0 Royals victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
After the eighth inning on Tuesday night, manager Trey Hillman went up to Meche and said, "Nice job." The inference was that the bullpen would finish up for him.
"No way," Meche replied stoutly. "I've got this one."
And he did. On a steamy, 85-degree evening with 26,974 fans at Kauffman Stadium, Meche finished the nine-inning shutout despite throwing 132 pitches, the most in his career. He had a four-hitter with just one walk and six strikeouts.
"When I walked off the field, I gave Trey a little wink," Meche said. "Kind of thanks for letting me go back out and get this one."
Not that it wasn't a pitched battle in the ninth. Meche had ended eight innings with 110 pitches, so he wasn't surprised that Hillman was ready to excuse him. And the ninth required 22 more pitches before he was finished.
"The crowd kind of carries you through it." Meche said. "It's kind of funny, I was running out there and the crowd stands up and starts cheering. And I thought of [Joakim] Soria and, man, this guy comes out here every day and the crowd's behind him and he hasn't even thrown a pitch. And here I am killing myself. I got to the mound and almost started laughing."
He ran up a 3-2 count on Gerardo Parra before notching his sixth and last strikeout. He got Justin Upton to ground out on his fifth pitch. But Stephen Drew was a real determined batsman. He fouled off four straight 3-2 pitches before he finally flied out.
Meche even tried a slow Soria-style curve on Drew.
"I was trying everything on him. With that crowd getting that amped up, I figured he was going to swing at everything out of my hand, so I just tried to float it up there," Meche said.
The game ended as David DeJesus raced to the left-field line to catch Drew's line drive.
Maybe the Royals have found a cure-all in these Interleague games. This was their fourth consecutive victory, all over National League teams. After defeating St. Louis on May 24, the Royals went just 3-12 against American League teams before returning to Interleague play.
The Royals just pecked away at D-backs left-hander Doug Davis, driving him out in the sixth inning when Mark Teahen's RBI single gave them a 4-0 lead. Teahen's third hit -- he's got an eight-game streak going in which he's 13-for-29 (.448) -- came after a curious double.
Upton, the D-backs right fielder, seemingly camped under Mike Jacobs' high fly, suddenly realized he'd misjudged the ball. He abruptly broke back, just as the ball struck high off the bullpen fence above him and to his right. The ball bounced away and Jacobs had a double.
"It's funny, because I thought [the way] I hit that ball [it] was going to be in the seats, no problem," Jacobs said. "I guess Kauffman Stadium got me this time. It was pretty high [and] sometimes that wind swirls up there. I don't know if he didn't see it, or what he thought, but I'll take both of them."
Both of them? Yep, in the eighth, Jacobs hit a high fly down the left-field line that fell off Parra's glove. He got a double and then scored the fifth run on Alberto Callaspo's single.
"I've hit a couple balls hard lately right at some guys, and hopefully the baseball gods are shining down on me a little bit -- knock on some wood," Jacobs said, thumping on his locker.
This was the fourth straight strong outing for Meche and it came on a night the Royals were giving away T-shirts which showed a 10, jack, queen, king and Zack Greinke as the ace.
"He got ticked off a little bit with the shirt," Teahen joked.
Meche just smiled and gave it an aw-shucks. He and Greinke are pals of the rotation brotherhood.
"Let him be the ace, who cares?" Meche said, laughing.
Afterward, Meche had his right arm encased in ice and understandably looked weary.
"I don't know how much weight I lost but there's something about the heat brings back out the Cajun in me," said Meche, a native of Louisiana.
"The biggest thing today was Davis works so slow, it helped me out between innings, kind of catch my breath and cooled off in the batting cage with the AC and felt pretty fresh."
Fresh enough to get the sixth complete game of his career, but just the third in which he went the whole nine innings. And his record in Interleague Play went to 14-4.
"He pretty much shoved it down our throat," said Arizona manager A.J. Hinch.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.