Zack Greinke keeps this up, and his picture could wind up in post offices throughout the American League Central Division.
Greinke put himself on the Minnesota Twins’ most-wanted list Saturday night by hitting Delmon Young with an up-and-in pitch in a 7-3 loss at Kauffman Stadium.
Recall that Greinke is already facing a five-game suspension, currently under appeal, for drilling Nick Swisher in last Sunday’s 14-3 victory over the White Sox. That incident brought an automatic ejection.
There was no ejection this time, although Young, who hit a two-run homer in his previous at-bat, took a few steps toward the mound, which prompted both benches to empty.
Not much came of it — in terms of a scrum. The Twins instead got even by knocking out Greinke in a five-run burst that turned a one-run game into a runaway.
It mattered little that four runs scored after Leo Nuñez replaced Greinke. Most of the damage went on Greinke’s line. So did the loss, which dropped his record to 9-8. His ERA climbed to a season-high 4.09.
The Royals lost for the ninth time in 11 games to the Twins, who vaulted past Chicago and into first place by one-half game in the AL Central. The White Sox lost 6-2 to Boston.
This one started as a pitchers’ duel between Greinke and Minnesota lefty Francisco Liriano, who appears fully recovered from the reconstructive elbow surgery — Tommy John surgery — that derailed him nearly two years ago.
Liriano improved to 2-3 and appeared dominant than his line indicates: three runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. Boof Bonser and Dennys Reyes closed out the victory by limiting the Royals to two singles over the final 3 1/3 innings.
The Twins’ 10-hit attack included at least one from seven of nine starters. Denard Span’s two-run single provided the key blow in the five-run sixth.
Mike Aviles had two of the Royals’ eight hits and raised his average to .343. Mark Teahen also had two hits, including a two-run double in the sixth that knocked out Liriano.
The Royals, 53-64, have lost four in a row overall.
Young’s two-run homer opened the scoring in the second inning, but the Royals closed to 2-1 on Miguel Olivo’s homer in the fourth. That’s how things stood when it got interesting in the Minnesota sixth.
Jason Kubel led off with a triple into the right-center gap. Greinke’s next pitch, a 92-mph fastball, zapped Young high on the arm. Young spun toward the mound, but home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez intervened and both teams spilled onto the field.
Olivo moved toward Young before holding up. Coincidentally, or not, it was Olivo who was charged the mound last Sunday after getting hit by Chicago reliever D.J. Carrasco. The incident came two innings before Greinke hit Swisher.
When resumed, Brian Buscher flared an RBI single to left for a 3-1 lead. Greinke then walked Adam Everett, which loaded the bases and brought Nuñez into the game.
Third baseman Alex Gordon booted Carlos Gomez’s grounder to third, which produced another run and kept the bases loaded. Span’s two-run single to left pushed the lead to 6-1.
Justin Morneau added a sacrifice fly before the inning ended.