Greinke unable to contain Mariners in loss
Royals ace allows six runs over seven innings in opener
SEATTLE -- Zack Greinke, a silencer of Seattle bats for a long time, got a rude awakening on Friday night.
Greinke was hit hard by the Mariners, who defeated him for the first time, 7-1, to the general approval of 20,411 fans at Safeco Field. The six earned runs off him came on 10 hits, four for extra bases.
This was jarring jolt for Greinke, who had given up just two runs in his previous five starts against the Mariners since 2008. That included just one earned run in 39 innings for a 0.23 ERA.
Greinke came into this game with a 4-0 record and 1.64 ERA against the Mariners in 10 career outings.
And he didn't think his stuff was all that bad in this game.
"I threw just about everything I wanted and they still ended up scoring six runs, but maybe that's what it was -- I got the best of them a couple times and it was time for them to do it to me," Greinke said.
He had a short-lived lead in this one.
Successive two-out singles by Gregor Blanco, Jason Kendall and Billy Butler put the Royals ahead, 1-0, against left-hander Luke French in the third inning. Butler's RBI hit was a blooper, but it made him 6-for-8 in his career against French to that point.
"Zack just cruised through the first two innings, just cruised," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "When we scored one run, I thought, 'OK, we'll work on that for a little while and get some more and Zack was going to continue to cruise.' But the first pitch to [Ryan] Langerhans..."
Oh my, yes.
The lead was gone in a blink of Greinke's eye. Langerhans belted his first pitch of the bottom half of the frame over the center-field wall to tie the score.
This was the first time that Greinke had ever faced the left-handed-hitting Langerhans and he decided to fly by the seat of his pants. He didn't scrutinize Langerhans' tendencies prior to the game.
"I was going to just make good pitches and learn from them as the game went on, but he likes it away, he likes it down a little and it was kind of down, middle away," Greinke said.
Langerhans, on the other hand, did a little pregame digging on Greinke.
"Something we talked about in our meeting today was that he likes to get ahead, likes to pound the fastball," Langerhans said, noting that his teammates took the same tack.
"He made some mistakes there with that first pitch, we were aggressive and didn't miss them. That was a big key. Instead of fouling them off, we were putting them in play."
Jack Wilson followed with a triple to deep left and scored as Chone Figgins bounced a single through the middle, breaking his 0-for-21 skid against Greinke.
The Mariners went up 4-1 with two more runs in the fourth after loading the bases with one out. Wilson hit a sacrifice fly and Ichiro Suzuki stroked a run-scoring single. Old stuff for Ichiro, who entered the game with a .370 career mark against the Royals, second only to .383 by Cardinals star Albert Pujols.
Figgins struck again in the sixth with a bases-loaded double down the left-field line, good for two more runs and a 6-1 lead. So now Figgins is 2-for-24 against Greinke.
"That was just a lucky thing and they're going to happen," Greinke said of Figgins' first hit. "But the next one, I couldn't execute any better and he just beat me on that. So he was due too, I guess."
Meantime, French was holding the Royals to that one run in his eight innings, the longest outing of his career. Oddly, this was just the fifth win of French's career and three of them have come against Royals -- two when starting against Greinke. French was with Detroit when he got his first Major League win against Greinke on July 8, 2009.
"Obviously he pitched well," Chris Getz said. "He was throwing strikes. He clearly wasn't overpowering, but he was kind of deceptive. He stayed away from the big inning and there you go."
Kendall had a double and a single off French, but when he came up with two on and no outs in the fifth, he tried a bunt and couldn't execute. French caught the pop-up and fired to second base for a double play.
Did Kendall get the bunt sign?
"No, he was bunting for a hit," Yost said.
Greinke, whose record slid to 7-11, pitched seven innings and threw 110 pitches (75 strikes) in the 200th game of his career. It was just his third loss in his past nine decisions.
"I thought I pitched OK today," he said. "When I pitch bad, I let you guys know. But I felt like I threw all right. They put a lot of hits together. It's not like they were lucky hits, most of them. They were line drives so, hopefully, it was just one of those days."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.