DETROIT | Zack Greinke appears to be fine. Start with that. X-rays on his right arm, his pitching arm, showed nothing more than a nasty bruise after being hit by a line drive Thursday in the Royals’ 9-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
“Not too bad,” he confirmed. “We’ll see how it goes. I’m sure it’ll get worse than it is today, but it will probably be fine.”
The Royals will monitor Greinke closely through the weekend, but the initial expectation is he should be able to make his final three starts — although he might require an extra day of rest before his next outing.
“We’ll have to go day to day,” manager Trey Hillman said. “Our rotation will be a little up in the air over the next five to seven days. We’ll do what we need to do and make sure he’s 100 percent before he has his next start.”
Greinke, 14-8, got the victory Thursday because he was able to pitch through the fifth inning — five shutout innings, by the way — after being struck above the elbow in the fourth by Miguel Cabrera’s leadoff line drive.
“Fastball away,” Greinke said. “He crushes those.”
Greinke recovered in time from the line drive to get the out before a cluster of teammates and club personnel gathered at the mound.
“The way Zack finished the play,” catcher Miguel Olivo said, “I thought it must have hit the glove. When I saw his arm, I said a bad word. But when I asked, `Are you OK?’ He said, `I’ll be fine.’ I trust him. He’s a gamer, man.”
Greinke tested his arm with several practice pitches before satisfying everyone, including himself, that he could continue.
“If anybody had any question about his physical and mental toughness,” Hillman said, “they should put those aside. That was one of the most solid shots I’ve ever seen anywhere but especially to a pitching arm.”
The Royals led 5-0 at the time.
Greinke resumed play by striking out Aubrey Huff and finished the inning without further problems. Greinke worked a one-two-three fifth inning, with two strikeouts, before handing an 8-0 lead to the bullpen.
“The last thing I wanted to do was go five and be done,” he said. “But it got worse the next inning. It wasn’t smart to continue, especially with the lead we had. And I wasn’t pitching that great.”
Depends on whom you ask.
“After the ball hit him,” Olivo laughed, “his changeup got really nasty, and his breaking ball was better. But after five innings, I’m glad he got out and took care of his arm.”
And the Royals, for a change, took care of Greinke with plenty of offense. They jumped to a 2-0 lead on Alberto Callaspo’s two-run double in the first inning before getting three-run homers from Olivo in the third and Josh Anderson in the sixth.
The first five runs came against Tigers starter Edwin Jackson, who lasted just five innings. Jackson, 12-7, allowed six hits and one walk while striking out six.
Anderson’s homer was his first of the season and hiked the lead to 8-0 in the sixth inning against reliever Armando Galarraga. It was a no-doubter, too, down the right-field line.
“It felt great,” Anderson admitted. “I don’t hit many. It came at a good time — with men on base.”
Greinke’s 14 victories are a career high, and he polished his Cy Young credentials by lowering MLB-best ERA to 2.14. He permitted just three hits, all singles, while striking out eight and walking two.
“He had some good stuff today,” Hillman said. “His fastball command (before the line drive) was as good as I’ve seen. It’s not only impressive that he was able to finish the fifth, but what he did in the fifth was impressive as well.”
The Royals finished with 12 hits — reaching double figures for the 10th time in 11 games. Willie Bloomquist had a season-high four hits, all singles, and scored twice as a temporary leadoff replacement for David DeJesus, who is nursing a sore knee.
Callaspo had an RBI single in addition to his two-run double. Billy Butler scored twice, and Yuniesky Betancourt had two singles.
Greinke wasn’t the only pitching casualty.
Bruce Chen started the sixth and surrendered a two-run homer to Cabrera before exiting because a strained left oblique in the seventh. Kyle Farnsworth tweaked his knee in the eighth inning but was able to continue.
Joakim Soria closed out the victory by wobbling through the ninth in a non-save situation. The Tigers loaded the bases before Soria ended the game by striking out Clete Thomas.
The Royals, 59-87, have won eight of their last 10. They have also won three straight series, including a 5-1 run against first-place Detroit over the last 10 days.
So, yes, it’s all going pretty well right now — if Greinke is OK. Pretty big if.