The weather seems to have no effect on these Royals. Wednesday night brought a steady rain, a stiff wind and more teeth-chattering chill.
It didn’t matter.
The Royals rode a dominant performance by Zack Greinke to a 4-0 victory over the New York Yankees at Kauffman Stadium.
That makes two straight victories over the Yankees under miserable conditions. The Royals improved to 6-2 and ensured themselves of remaining atop the American League Central Division.
Greinke pitched eight scoreless innings before handing a four-run lead to the bullpen. He allowed six hits, including four doubles, in a 107-pitch performance that included 73 strikes.
It was Greinke’s second straight strong outing; he limited the Tigers to one run and six hits in seven innings on April 3 in a 4-1 victory that completed a three-game sweep in Detroit.
The rain started in the top of the second inning and sent much of the crowd scurrying for cover. It pelted down at times, but the umpire Rick Reed, the crew chief, never called for the tarp.
John Buck broke a scoreless tie when he led off the fifth with a howitzer of a homer through the wind and rain against Kyle Farnsworth. It traveled an estimated 439 feet to the corner of the fountain just to the left side of straightaway center.
The Royals added another run on José Guillen’s two-out RBI single. A two-run sixth boosted the lead to 4-0.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi anticipated a rainout or a rain delay, which is why he switched pitchers just prior to the game by inserting reliever Brian Bruney in place of rookie starter Ian Kennedy.
Bruney was fine; he worked two scoreless innings. And Billy Traber pitched the third before the reliever-first strategy backfired when Farnsworth, 0-1, entered the game. Kennedy also gave up two runs when he made a belated appearance in the sixth.
Yasuhiko Yabuba replaced Greinke to start the ninth and ran into trouble after shortstop Tony Peña failed to hold Alex Rodriguez’s one-out liner. A walk to Hideki Matsui brought Jimmy Gobble into the game.
Gobble closed out the victory, and got a save, by retiring Jason Giambi on a pop and striking out José Molina.
Greinke, 2-0, benefited from three double plays, despite a muddy infield, and faced only serious trouble in the fourth. Rodriguez hustled his way to a two-out double on a line drive to right-center field, and Matsui followed with a walk.
But Greinke ended the threat by inducing a foul pop to third from Giambi. The Yankees, 4-5, also got a two-out double by just-recalled Alberto Gonzalez in the fifth, but Greinke struck out Johnny Damon.
Buck’s homer opened the two-run fifth.
Joey Gathright reached on a one-out bunt and stole second but was thrown out when attempting to steal third on a ball-four pitch to Grudzielanek. A walk to Mark Teahen preceded Guillen’s RBI single.
The Royals extended their lead to 4-0 against Kennedy in the sixth. Gordon led off with a walk and scored from first on Gload’s hit-and-run double over Matsui’s head in left. Gonzalez’s relay throw beat Gordon to the plate, but Molina never applied the tag.
Gload went to third on Buck’s single to right before scoring on Tony Peña’s fielder’s-choice grounder to short.