Lack of run support costs Greinke, Royals
Right-handed ace denied first victory of season at Texas
ARLINGTON -- No help from the hitters -- again. A costly missed popup. And Zack Greinke himself wasn't razor sharp.
All that added up to another loss for Greinke and the Royals, 4-1, on Friday night to the Texas Rangers and the recycled left-hander, C.J. Wilson.
Greinke, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, is still without a victory in 2010. He's 0-4 with a 2.51 ERA and he's given up three earned runs or fewer in six of his seven starts. At the same time the Royals have averaged just 2.4 runs in those seven games.
"I'm just trying to go deep in the games and keep us in the ballgame," Greinke said. "I feel like we've been playing better and not giving games away. We're just getting beat right now."
In his previous start, Greinke was a 1-0 loser in a complete-game effort at Tampa Bay. So his teammates have given him one run in the last 18 innings.
"Zack wasn't as sharp but he still pitched good enough to win if he'd have gotten some run support," Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
The Royals have lost three straight, including the 13-12 crusher here on Thursday night, and five of their last six games. The 29,065 fans saw them succumb swiftly, in 2 hours 9 minutes, the quickest game at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington this season.
Greinke gave up a home run to Vladimir Guerrero on his first pitch of the second inning. It was Guerrero's third homer in his three consecutive at-bats against the Royals. He hit two, including the game-winner on Thursday night.
"Vlady is a super freak," Hillman said. "The ball off [Josh] Rupe yesterday was three to four inches inside off the plate and the ball off Jack [Joakim Soria] was probably at the top of the knees on the outside black. So he can hit it above his head, he can hit it off his feet."
Given that, Greinke was somewhat amazed that Guerrero was ready for his pedestrian, hanging slider down Central Avenue.
"That was really a bad pitch," Greinke said. "That one was awful and he hit it. It was probably too good of a pitch for him to hit that good, actually. Usually he doesn't hit pitches right down the middle that good."
The Rangers made it 2-0 in that inning when, after David Murphy doubled and there were two outs, shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt seemed too nonchalant on a high popup by Matt Treanor. He one-handed it and dropped it. The error allowed Murphy to score and aroused Hillman's extreme displeasure. What's a manager to do?
"You take action. It's already been taken," Hillman said, without offering the specifics. "It's unacceptable. It makes us look like we don't know what we're doing."
Betancourt started the next inning with a single and scored the Royals' only run on Billy Butler's single, but that was all they could get against Wilson. He's a long-time reliever who was converted into a starter during Spring Training at the complex the two teams share in Surprise, Ariz. This effort lowered his ERA to 1.51 with a 3-1 record.
That third inning might have been bigger for the Royals except Scott Podsednik popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt and Jose Guillen hit a scorching line drive that was caught by shortstop Elvis Andrus.
"It was tough on us," Butler said. "Pods tried to get 'em over and couldn't. A lot of things could've gone different in that one inning but other than that one inning, we really didn't do anything. You can give C.J. a lot of credit for what he did today."
The Rangers added one with a run in the third and one in the fifth and that was plenty for Wilson. He gave up just five hits in the first nine-inning complete game of his career.
Greinke, in his seven innings, gave up nine hits and four runs, three earned, with one walk and three strikeouts. He threw 108 pitches, including 73 strikes.
"Zack is always tough, day or night, home or road," said the Rangers' Michael Young, who had two hits and an RBI. "You just have to make an effort to swing at strikes. You don't want to do him any favors by swinging at pitches outside of the zone and we did a good job of staying in the zone."
Greinke's self-analysis was less flattering.
"Definitely not as sharp," he said, referring to his start at Tampa Bay. "I need to look at the video and see exactly where everything went wrong, but they just hit a lot of balls hard today and a lot of line drives. Some soft line drives, some hard line drives. But I wasn't really missing many bats where I could get 'em off-balance very good."
What he is definitely still missing, though, is a victory.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.