Kevin Slowey is insistent: He doesn’t let one start carry over to the next, whether it’s a success, a failure or just so-so. Good advice for Zack Greinke.
Greinke was hit hard again, and the Kansas City Royals never recovered from their first-inning deficit in a 7-3 loss to Slowey and the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night.
“I liken it to a hitter going through a slump,” Royals manager Ned Yost said, expressing little concern about the reigning Cy Young Award winner. “You find ways to work your way through it and work your way out of it. He’s a guy that works real hard. As soon as it was over, he was on the video looking at it. He’ll work his way out of it.”
It was 13 up and 13 down for the Royals to start against Slowey (7-3), who surrendered two sharp singles in the fifth before center fielder Denard Span finished the inning with a long sprint to catch Mitch Maier’s drive at the wall to preserve a 5-0 lead.
Jason Kubel homered and hit a two-run double in the first inning to give the Twins a 3-0 lead, and Span added to it with a two-run single in the fourth.
“He’s always given us trouble,” Kubel said of Greinke. “For me he was always getting me on sliders down and in, and I was able to foul a couple of those off today.”
Greinke’s ERA surpassed 4 for the first time this season, up from a league-leading 2.16 last year and the highest it’s been since Aug. 9, 2008. Greinke (1-8) needed 102 pitches to get through five innings, allowing nine hits and six runs.
“Usually a bad game is like three runs, and they’ve been five-, six-, seven-run games,” he said. “I don’t know where that’s coming from. Not getting out of innings. Usually it’s two outs and the inning’s over, and not lately.”
Slowey went seven shutout innings, his first outing without an earned run in 39 starts _ all the way back to July 28, 2008.
He yielded three hits without a walk for his third straight quality start after notching only one of those in his first nine turns this season. He has an 0.87 ERA over this current three-start streak.
“I’m being honest with you. … Every start is its own challenge,” Slowey said, citing advice from pitching coach Rick Anderson. “There’s no reason to combine starts and say, ‘I’ve had two good ones. This is important to have another good one.”’
This three-start stretch is his best since June 2008, in terms of innings logged and runs allowed.
Manager Ron Gardenhire spoke before the game about how Slowey has recently found his rhythm: “They’ve got to be quality strikes. You can’t just pitch to contact.”
Though Greinke has had a handful of strong starts, he’s still trying to get in that groove and is nowhere near last year’s form.
The Royals haven’t helped him out much, though, failing to score for 22 straight innings while he’s on the mound. They have scored three runs or less in eight of his 13 starts this season.