Royals unable to support Greinke in finale
Kansas City ace notches nine strikeouts in hard-luck loss
DETROIT -- Zack Greinke's record won't be quite as glossy for the All-Star Game as the Royals had hoped.
Greinke absorbed a 3-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night at Comerica Park, sending him to the Midsummer Classic at St. Louis with a 10-5 mark and a 2.12 ERA.
Those still aren't bad credentials and Greinke would certainly like the honor of starting for the American League on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.
"I hope to, but I think [Roy] Halladay has a pretty good argument, especially with the experience he has and I'd be happy with either decision," Greinke said. "If it's someone besides us two, I think that'd be a little weird."
A little weird is what the first and second innings at Motown were as 29,104 fans watched the proceedings.
"The whole first two innings was whatever could go wrong did," Greinke said.
And that's when the Tigers scored all three of their runs.
Greinke got off to a bad beginning, walking leadoff batter Curtis Granderson in the first inning.
"That was stupid," Greinke said. "He battled me a little bit but I shouldn't have walked him. That should cost you, walking the leadoff guy like that."
Then Placido Polanco's hit-and-run bouncer hopped over a third baseman Mark Teahen, who was pulled in.
"I'm playing in, in case he bunts," Teahen said.
As the ball rolled into left field and Granderson took third, Polanco ranged far around first base, which was unmanned, and jogged to second base as left fielder David DeJesus threw to the middle of the infield.
"We allowed Polanco to walk to second base because we don't take the ball to second base in proper position," manager Trey Hillman said.
So that put runners at second and third with no outs. Granderson scored on Marcus Thames' groundout and Polanco came in on Clete Thomas' bloop single to right field. It was 2-0.
More misfortune in the second inning. Josh Anderson led off with a solid double to left and Gerald Laird pushed a bunt into the air. Greinke was sure he could catch it -- "a terrible bunt," he said -- and double up Anderson at second.
"I don't know how I missed it. I guess it just hit off the tip of my glove and it was in my glove but the ground knocked it out, at least that's what [catcher Miguel] Olivo told me. I mean it's a double play if it's caught," Greinke said.
Then Greinke slid on the wet grass, snatched up the ball and threw what he called "a five-hopper" to first base and Laird was safe with a single. After Ramon Santiago lofted a sacrifice fly, it was 3-0.
And that's just what Tigers manager Jim Leyland wanted to see -- an early lead.
"That's why we pushed a little bit, to be honest with you. We tried to be a little aggressive with him, because if you let him dictate everything, then it's gonna be a long night for you," Leyland said. "He's outstanding, there's no question about that. We all know that. We hung in there. I thought we had some great at-bats."
It stayed 3-0 through six innings because Tigers left-hander Luke French, a rookie making just his second Major League start, mystified everyone except Billy Butler.
Butler ripped off three straight doubles against French, but was stranded at second base each time. The only other hit was a single by Olivo. Until, that is, Alberto Callaspo barely cleared the left-field fence with one out in the seventh inning -- his sixth home run.
Ryan Freel followed with a single and that was it for French, who notched his first big league victory. Taiwanese lefty Fu-Te Ni relieved French and induced pinch-hitter Brayan Pena to rap into a double play. The Tigers' bullpen mowed down the last seven Royals batters with that DP, a flyout and five strikeouts.
The Royals, who lost to hard-throwing Justin Verlander the night before, did not seem all that impressed with French.
"He was all right. We didn't help ourselves at all," Teahen said. "I mean he benefited from coming after Verlander because everybody's coming at the ball and he's all offspeed stuff."
Greinke was pulled after six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and two walks. He struck out nine, boosting his total to 129 in 127 2/3 innings, fourth best total in the Major Leagues. His ERA edged up to 2.12 from 2.00 but it's still the lowest in the Majors.
"I wasn't hit that hard but they won the game so it's a tough, tough one," Greinke said, "because I pitched pretty good and kept them off balance."
But whatever could go wrong went wrong.
"Just a bunch of stupid stuff happened," he said.
Now, for Greinke, it's on to the All-Star Game and, just maybe, a start against the National League.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.