KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Zack Greinke made his third start at Kauffman Stadium as a visiting player Monday night, and it was far from a charm.
Greinke’s first-half All-Star cruise hit some choppy water in the place where he broke into the major leagues. The Kansas City Royals banged 11 hits off him in their 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Greinke, who came up with the Royals in 2004, had pitched here twice in 2012 as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Angels.
How it happened: The Royals, who had lost four in a row, kept pressure on Greinke throughout the game. Salvador Perez homered off him in the second inning. Speedster Jarrod Dyson had three hits and scored two runs. Alcides Escobar hit an RBI triple past Yasiel Puig. Meanwhile, the Dodgers couldn’t do anything against veteran Jeremy Guthrie until the eighth inning; by then, it was too late.
They hit into some hard luck. Puig sent a ball soaring deep to center field, but Dyson caught it as he collided with the wall. Puig also ripped a line drive to right, but Lorenzo Cain was somehow positioned right there.
Hits: Puig was five years old when Jamey Wright debuted for the Colorado Rockies in 1996. Wright was once an elite prospect, and he probably didn’t think it would take him 19 seasons to reach 2,000 innings pitched. Then again, he probably never thought about pitching 2,000 innings. He reached that milestone after getting Cain to fly out in the sixth inning. Wright followed that with a scoreless seventh inning. Wright, 39, is the forgotten man in the Dodgers’ bullpen because he often pitches in mop-up duty. But he has done his job well: He has allowed just two hits and no walks or runs in his last eight games.
Misses: Andre Ethier tends to try to work his way out of slumps and, not surprisingly, he’s been putting in a lot of sweat in the batting cage and spending a lot of time looking at video. This is a deep rut. In Ethier’s last 20 games, he’s batting .181 without a home run and with just two doubles. Scott Van Slyke already has taken over a lot of games in center when the Dodgers are facing a left-handed pitcher. If Ethier continues to slump this badly, the Dodgers might look to explore other fixes. They could go with Van Slyke full time or promote Joc Pederson from Triple-A Albuquerque. Pederson is second in the Pacific Coast League in OPS (1.008)
Stat of the game: Even in one of his worst starts, Greinke accomplished something noteworthy. With four strikeouts and no walks, he now has struck out 101 batters and walked 20, a ratio of more than 5-to-1. In L.A. Dodgers history, only Sandy Koufax had walked fewer batters (19) at the time of his 100th strikeout in a season (1965).
Up next: Clayton Kershaw (7-2, 2.52 ERA) tries to do what hundreds of pitchers have tried since Johnny Vander Meer pulled it off in 1938: pitch two no-hitters in a row. The only base runner in his last start reached base on Hanley Ramirez’s throwing error. The Dodgers face lefty Danny Duffy (4-6, 2.80) at 5:10 p.m. PT on Tuesday.