Greinke gets tons of support for 14th win
Olivo, Anderson each hit three-run homers vs. Tigers
DETROIT -- There were no dull moments for Zack Greinke on Thursday.
The American League Cy Young Award candidate logged five shutout innings, was drilled by a line drive in his pitching arm and notched his 14th victory as the Royals knocked off the first-place Detroit Tigers, 9-2, with 26,457 sun worshippers at Comerica Park.
Kansas City took this series, 2-1, split the season series with Detroit, 9-9, and posted its eighth win in the past 10 games.
The heavy artillery was provided by Miguel Olivo and Josh Anderson, who each hit a three-run homer, and Alberto Callaspo, who also knocked in three runs with a double and a single. Willie Bloomquist had four of the Royals' 12 hits.
And the best news was that X-rays on Greinke's valuable right arm were negative.
The big scare came as the Tigers' fourth inning began, when Miguel Cabrera's line drive smacked Greinke above his right elbow. It happened so fast that Greinke had to watch the video to grasp what he went through.
"I don't remember even moving out there, but when I saw it, I thought, 'Man, I was sort of close to catching it,' " he said. "But still not even close, I didn't even get a glove on it."
Greinke picked up the ball and threw out Cabrera before manager Trey Hillman convened a conference at the mound, with assistant athletic trainer Frank Kyte tending to the pitcher.
"Negative on the X-rays," Hillman said, "which is obviously a big bonus, but if anybody had any questions about his physical and mental toughness, I think they should put those aside. I think that's one of the most solid shots I've ever seen to anywhere but especially the pitching arm."
"When we got out there, we could see the seams just above the right elbow."
Greinke finished that inning and pitched a perfect fifth before being taken out for treatment and X-rays. Whether he'll make his next scheduled start on Tuesday against Boston remained a question.
The 68-degree afternoon began gloriously for Greinke. The Royals not only scored two runs in the first inning, but they also added three in the third. That was brisk business in the eyes of Greinke. After all, in his previous 16 combined starts involving a loss or no-decision, Kansas City had averaged just 1.9 runs a game. So this outburst was a good sign.
Callaspo's two-run double came after Bloomquist's single and a fielder's choice. After shortstop Ramon Santiago fielded Billy Butler's roller, Bloomquist beat the toss to second.
"It all keyed off what Willie did in the first inning, hustling his rear end off, and then that dominoed into the two-out double," Hillman said. "That got us started off really good against a real good starting pitcher."
That was Edwin Jackson, who had been 8-1 at Comerica Park before this loss. Callaspo's drive curved into left-center field and rolled so far that Butler chugged home easily from first for a 2-0 lead.
Going deep has become an Olivo specialty, and his 21st home run covered a lot of territory in the third. With two on -- Butler singled and Callaspo walked -- Olivo deposited a 1-1 pitch from Jackson over the center-field wall. It traveled an estimated 422 feet, and Greinke had a 5-0 lead.
"We got the wind taken out of our sails a little bit," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "When you get down four or five runs to a guy like Greinke, it does change some things."
Then Anderson, a former Tiger, pounded a three-run homer off reliever Armando Galarraga to give the Royals an 8-0 lead. Anderson's first homer for Kansas City came after singles by Alex Gordon and Yuniesky Betancourt.
"I don't get many home runs, but when I get one, it's special, and I remember all of them," Anderson said. "Today it came at a good time, because it was a three-run shot and kind of opened up the game a little bit."
Anderson's three-run shot was the Royals' fifth in this series; previously they had just seven three-run homers all season.
With that handsome advantage, Greinke was removed from the game, although Hillman said he would have come out regardless.
"I was hoping to go longer, because the last thing I want to do is go five and be done," Greinke said. "But it got worse the next inning, so it just wasn't smart with the lead we had, and I wasn't pitching that good anyway."
In his five shutout innings, Greinke lowered his Major League-leading ERA to 2.14 with eight strikeouts to reach the 224 mark. He gave up three singles and two walks.
Bruce Chen relieved him for the sixth and gave up a two-run homer to Cabrera. Then, in the seventh, Chen had to be removed for a mild strain of the left oblique. He was replaced by Kyle Farnsworth.
"I was debating whether I could throw, because I had a 2-2 count," Chen said. "Could I throw one more pitch? Then, no, I don't think so."
Farnsworth retired four batters, and closer Joakim Soria, to get some work, pitched the ninth. The Tigers loaded the bases but didn't score as Soria registered three strikeouts.
As a footnote, Bloomquist's four singles made him 8-for-11 in the three-game series.
"I got some gift-wraps here with a ball in the lights and a squiggy that got past the pitcher, but I'll take every last one of them," he said.
And what all the Royals will take is another victory and news that their ace pitcher's X-rays showed no fracture in that superb right arm.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.