ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. | Today was World Laughter Day, and it’s a good thing for the Royals because, as Tom Hanks (as Jimmy Dugan) once told us, there’s no crying in baseball.
Zack Greinke is now winless this season through six starts after a 1-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. And if tears are forbidden, well, why not laugh?
“Zack threw awesome, as he always does,” first baseman Billy Butler said. “It sucks every time that he goes out there that those are the days when we’re having trouble getting runs.
“The only thing I can say to him is we’re giving it our best, and we’ll get it right.”
The Royals blew a chance to post their first three-game winning streak of the season by again sabotaging their best pitcher. The bullpen previously proved the primary culprit by throwing away leads in three possible victories.
But Greinke removed the bullpen from the equation today with an efficient 87-pitch performance through his eight innings. (That was no coincidence; Greinke and everyone else knew Joakim Soria was likely unavailable after working the last three days.)
So what happens? The Royals’ attack took the day off. Worse than that, really. They produced a series of numbingly inefficient at-bats when opportunities presented themselves.
“We didn’t make adjustments,” manager Trey Hillman said. “It’s tough. No run support for Zack. It happened last year. It’s been a continuing theme this year, and it’s a shame.”
It all leaves Greinke at 0-3 despite lowering his ERA to 2.27 after limiting the Rays to one run and four hits while striking out six and walking none.
He’s handling this pretty well.
“I’ve just got to keep pitching aggressively,” Greinke said, “and things will work out in the end. By the end of the year, thing will even out like they always do.”
The only run came when Evan Longoria lofted a one-out homer in the fourth inning on a high fly that just reached the left-field seats. Longoria was hitless in all 10 of his previous at-bats against Greinke.
“He hit a slider that wasn’t way up,” Greinke said, “but it was up enough and right down the middle. He didn’t even hit it real good. He’s just real strong.”
That was it.
Tampa Bay starter Wade Davis, 3-1, was terrific, too. He permitted just three hits in seven innings, but the Royals had a handful of chances -- and did nothing with them.
Jason Kendall opened the seventh with a slicing double into the right-field corner. He got no farther. Mitch Maier and Yuniesky Betancourt hit routine flies to short left, and Chris Getz hit a topper back to the mound.
“Davis’ stuff is real good,” Hillman said. “We knew that coming inYou get a chance with a leadoff double, you’ve got to get him over and give us a chance to plate a run. We just weren’t able to make adjustments against good stuff.”
Randy Choate got the first two outs in the eighth inning, in left-on-left matchups, before Dan Wheeler struck out Butler.
Rafael Soriano pitched around a leadoff walk in the ninth inning for his sixth save in six chances. The Rays, 18-7, gained a split in the four-game series.
“Davis was wonderful again,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “Their guy was fabulous. Their guy could have pitched 15 innings tonight.”
The Royals, 10-15, threatened in the second inning after José Guillen led off with a single and moved to second when Alberto Callaspo walked. Nothing. Kendall popped a sacrifice bunt to Davis; Maier struck out, and Betancourt grounded into a force out.
David DeJesus got a one-out double in the third when left fielder Sean Rodriguez, primarily an infielder, made a bad read on the ball. More nothing. Scott Podsednik fouled to left, and Billy Butler struck out.
Davis walked two in the fifth but escaped when Podsednik fouled out to third.
“The guy we were facing,” Maier said, “isn’t as good as Zack. Put it that way. We should be able to put up a couple of runs and get a win for him when he goes out and throws that well.”
Only they didn’t.
So laugh. It can’t hurt. Not any worse, anyway.