For five innings yesterday, Edwin Jackson was up to the task against Kansas City. Jackson knew runs would be at a premium and he did his part to keep the Royals off the board. A throwing error by Jackson and some well placed ground balls through the infield in the sixth gave Kansas City all the runs that Zach Greinke would need, as the Royals bested the Tigers 6-1 to pull within three games of the division lead. For the most part, Jackson pitched well, certainly well enough to win on most nights, but tonight he was facing the only pitcher currently in the discussion for the Cy Young award (apologies to Roy Halladay and Justin Verlander).
How good is Zach Geinke? He hasn’t allowed a homerun since last September. He improved his record to 8-1 with yesterday’s win, it was his league leading fifth complete game. Greinke has allowed 12 walks this year. Read that last sentence again. 10 starts, eight wins, 12 walks. With his performance yesterday, Greinke watched his ERA rise from 0.82 to 0.84. You know you’re having a good year when you allow one run over nine innings and your ERA goes up.
How do you beat this guy? His only loss this season was a 1-0 decision against the Angels’ lefty Joe Saunders. For the first five innings it looked like the Tigers planned to follow that blueprint, but once the Royals smelled blood, they went for the kill and turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead by the end of the sixth. They added on in the seventh and eighth, but anyone watching knew the game was probably over when Mitch Maier’s groundball got past Placido Polanco to plate the first two Kansas City runs. The Tigers had their chances early, but three double plays lead to their demise, as they were unable to capitalize on the early scoring chances. The Tigers’ offense that had pounded out 19 hits in the series opener was held to just six hits versus Greinke, who finished his gem with eight punchouts.