PHOENIX | Yasuhiko Yabuta slumped forward on the mound, placing his hands on his knees. The very picture of defeat.
It could be the seminal image of the last month for the Royals.
Yabuta had just surrendered a walk-off homer to Chad Tracy in the 10th inning Friday night that provided the game’s only run in Arizona’s 1-0 victory at Chase Field.
Worse, Tracy’s homer came on an 0-2 pitch, a change-up, but there was no doubt. The ball soared deep into the seats beyond the right-field wall.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
So ended the Royals’ 20th loss in their last 25 games.
Tracy’s homer came after the Royals squandered their own opportunity in the top of the 10th against former Royal Billy Buckner.
Second-base umpire Ted Barrett ruled right fielder Justin Upton trapped Mark Grudzielanek’s one-out drive.
Replays suggested Upton made the catch.
Buckner then went 3-0 on Alex Gordon, but Gordon hacked at the next pitch and grounded into a double play.
Gordon slammed his helmet to the ground in frustration. Another telling image.
The two starters, Zack Greinke and Arizona’s Doug Davis, each pitched seven shutout innings before handing the game to their bullpens.
Chad Qualls and Ramon Ramirez in the eighth; Tony Peňa and Ron Mahay in the ninth; Buckner, 1-0, and Yabuta, 1-2, in the 10th. Buckner was only recalled earlier in the day by the Diamondbacks from Class AAA Tucson.
For Greinke, it was another memorable no-decision in his second career start at Chase Field. He yielded just three hits, all singles, but battled control issues the whole way.
He walked a career-high seven and threw just 58 strikes in 111 pitches. He also stranded 10 runners, including bases-loaded escapes in the second and third innings.
Greinke’s only previous start here resulted in the worst performance of his career. He allowed a franchise-record 11 runs and 15 hits in just 4 1/3 innings on June 10, 2005 before the Royals rallied and forced extra innings before losing 12-11 in the 10th.
Greinke also hit a homer in that game; the last time a Royals pitcher has hit a homer. He recently recalled, `There was a lot of anger in that swing.”
That was different, too.
Greinke went zero for two with a sacrifice in his three plate appearances.
Davis made his fifth start since returning from thyroid surgery and baffled with the Royals with an off-speed assortment. He allowed six hits, while striking out seven and walking four.
Davis stranded nine before handing a scoreless game to Chad Qualls in the eighth. Qualls worked a one-two-three inning with two strikeouts.
This was the Royals’ first visit to Chase Field since 2005, when they won two of three en route to a franchise-worst 106 losses.
The Royals put runners at first and third with one out in the first, but Davis struck out José Guillen and Miguel Olivo. They also squandered a one-and-second threat with one out in the second when Greinke grounded into a double play.
Greinke escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second by getting Davis to hit a soft two-out hopper back to the mound.
The Diamondbacks loaded the bases again in the third when Greinke issued consecutive two-out walks. Mark Reynolds then worked the count to 3-2 before swinging through a 96-mph fastball.
Greinke’s pitch count was mounting, though: 64 through just three innings.
The Royals wasted Guillen’s leadoff double in the sixth when he broke for third before making sure Olivo’s grounder made it through the left side. Shortstop Stephen Drew made a backhand stop and easily trapped Guillen for the inning’s first out.
Meanwhile, Greinke kept issuing walks but allowing few hits. He became more efficient, however. He needed just 35 pitches to work the fourth, fifth and six innings.
Joey Gathright opened the seventh with his second single of the game and went to second on Greinke’s sacrifice. Gathright stole third after Esteban German struck out, and Grudzielanek walked. Gordon popped to third on the first pitch.
To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, call (816) 234-4352 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.