06/07/09 6:00 PM ET
Royals, Davies no match for Jays' ace
Hurler goes distance despite rough start; offense stifled
By Larry Millson / Special to MLB.com
Davies was down, 4-0, after three innings, a score that held the test of time in the Royals' 4-0 loss to the Blue Jays before a crowd of 21,071.
The damage first came on a first-inning sacrifice fly by Vernon Wells. Then, a mammoth, glass-crashing home run high atop the restaurant in center field on a fastball to Lyle Overbay led off the second. Lastly came a hanging curveball that Aaron Hill did what hitters do with that pitch, redirecting it over the wall in left field for a two-run homer in the third.
Davies took 63 pitches to navigate the perils of the first three innings, but he avoided any big innings -- which would have sunk him.
Davies' location was off. His early game curveball lacked bite, spinning in the middle of the plate. It seemed like more of the same when Jose Bautista led off the bottom of the fourth with a single, but he was thrown out trying for a double. Davies gave up another hit in the fourth and hit a batter, but nothing materialized for the Jays. He got a timely double play in the two-hit fifth and, once again, was still in there come the sixth inning.
And he stayed in there, retiring 10 of the final 11 batters.
He ended up with an unlikely complete game, going eight innings, as Halladay became the first 10-game winner in the Major Leagues by also going the distance. Halladay struck out six after striking out 14 in his complete-game victory over the Angels on Tuesday.
"It seems like the game started and it's over," Royals first baseman Billy Butler said. "He's very economical and pounds the zone."
The closest the Royals came to reaching Halladay was in the seventh, when they hit three singles to load the bases with one out. But Miguel Olivo was gone on three pitches, swinging at a curveball for strike three.
"It was a nasty pitch," Olivo said.
Mitch Maier then grounded out on a first-pitch cutter, and Halladay had ended the threat with four devastating pitches.
Halladay has pitched two consecutive complete games for the first time since throwing four in a row from April 12- 29 last season -- though he lost three of those. The back-to-back complete victories this time around were his first since May 8-13, 2006. Sunday was also his first shutout since July 11, 2008.
Sunday marked the second career complete game for Davies. The other came while he was with the Atlanta Braves against the New York Mets on April 18, 2006.
This season, Davies is the only Royals pitcher to throw a complete game other than Zack Greinke, who has five -- including two shutouts.
The 25-year-old right-hander used a season-high 126 pitches Sunday, seven more than he made in seven innings during his May 16 loss to the Orioles.
"We had plenty of rested guys [in the bullpen]," Royals manager Trey Hillman said, "but we have to get the majority of the work, if we're going to get where we want to go, from our starters. That's why they're there. They have an extra day this next time. I even asked him after, jokingly, but after the eighth, I said, 'Could you go out and give us another one if we tie this thing up or take the lead?' He said, 'Sure can.' From a stamina standpoint, it's always good to get a read as you get closer to the middle of the season."
"When you've got a guy like Halladay on the mound, you've got to kind of keep it close early," Davies said. "And it kind of got away from me early. I threw way too many pitches early in the game, trying to be a little too perfect, and got us behind early. He pitched great the full game. A little bit too much, too late for me. I pitched well the last five innings, but the first three innings about as bad as you can get."
Davies said he overthrew a few pitches in the first inning.
"It was kind of like trying to throw a ball through a brick wall the first couple of innings," Davies said. "You don't locate it, but you try to put the best stuff you can on it. Major League hitters hit that, and you see the first three innings they did. And after that, I settled down and got through it. It was easy. My stuff actually got better after that. Something to build on."
After the first three innings, the curveball that only bit the guy who threw it in the first three innings began to take a chunk of the hitters. It no longer hung in the middle of the zone, but it behaved for Davies by getting down to where it should be, and it might even have kissed the dirt on occasion.
"I got aggressive, relaxed," Davies said. "I knew I had to get some quick outs, and they started coming.
Asked if he could have gone out to pitch the ninth if the game had been tied, Davies said: "I could have, yeah, if they'd asked me to."
Larry Millson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.