His team may be in last place, but that hasn'tstopped Kansas City ace Zack Greinke from building his case as thebest pitcher in the American League.
Greinke pitched a one-hitter Sunday, allowing only asecond-inning single by Kenji Johjima as the Royals beat the
Seattle Mariners 3-0.
Greinke (13-8) retired the final 22 batters after Johjima'stwo-out, soft single to center field.
The right-hander leads the majors with three shutouts and sixcomplete games, and his 2.32 ERA is best in the AL, all substantialarguments for the Cy Young Award.
It was the best low-hit game of his career - he pitched athree-hitter on April 24 against Detroit.
"He's just a full-dimensional guy," Royals manager TreyHillman said. "He's overpowering, he misses bats, he knows how touse his defense and that's what he did today. He was just in totalcommand the whole day. Very impressive."
Last Tuesday, Greinke struck out team-record 15 againstCleveland. He didn't fan any Mariners until the sixth inning andfinished with five overall.
A few days ago, Greinke talked about how Toronto's Roy Halladayand Seattle's Felix Hernandez were economical with their pitchesand got more grounders than strikeouts. Greinke talked about savinghimself some pitches, and also said the Mariners' hitters made morecontact than the Indians' big hitters.
Greinke has 202 strikeouts this season, making him the firstRoyals pitcher to reach 200 since Kevin Appier in 1996.
"This one's a lot of luck, a complete-team effort," Greinkesaid. "That other one (Cleveland) was as good as I could pitch, asnasty as I could be. Today, everyone just played well behind me."
Seattle's lone threat was in the second. Bill Hall drewGreinke's only walk with one out and took second on Johjima'ssingle.
Johjima's ball fell in front of center fielder Mitch Maier. Heplayed it on one hop, holding the runners at first and second. Thenext batter, Jack Wilson, bounced out to short to end the threat.
"Had I taken another step and dove, there's a chance I couldhave come up with it," Maier said. "But that's something theyteach all the time, if you're diving and you don't have someonebacking you up, you better make sure you're going to catch it. If Imiss that and it bounces over my head, a run scores and the guygets at least a double, maybe a triple."
Greinke said that if he tried to catch it, "more likely thanhim catching it, it gets by him and they score a run and theballgame is a different story. He's smart. He knows what he's doingout there."
Seattle was held to one hit for the 16th time in franchisehistory, the first since April 8, 2006 by Oakland. It was the 10thindividual one-hitter, the last one coming by the Yankees' TedLilly on April 27, 2002.
"That's one of the better pitched games I've seen in a long,long time," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "Just a clinictoday. The guy was almost unhittable. I think you go into aballgame like this offensively with a guy that struck out 15 in hislast appearance, and really the only way you beat a guy like thatis try to get his pitch count up.
"You look up on the board in the last inning, on his 113thpitch it's 96 miles per hour, and with that he complements it witha 65-66 mph curveball with command," he said.
Ryan Rowland-Smith (2-2) went a career-high eight innings forthe Mariners, allowing five hits and three runs. He walked one andstruck out a career-high seven.
Rowland-Smith matched Greinke for much of the afternoon exceptfor one bad inning - the Royals' three-run fifth.
Alberto Callaspo opened with a double that left fielder MichaelSaunders had trouble finding in the sun. Miguel Olivo's RBI singlewith one out made it 1-0.
Maier walked with one out, David DeJesus singled home a run andanother scored on a wild pitch.
Greinke fanned Josh Wilson to end the sixth for his firststrikeout of the game. That began a string in which Greinke struckout three of four hitters. Hall was his 200th strikeout.
"It feels good," Greinke said. "It's really, really hard todo. But people do it."
NOTES: Greinke is 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA in six career startsagainst Seattle. ... There is some concern that Mariners 1B RussellBranyan, placed on the disabled list Saturday with a herniateddisk, may not play again this season. This is the third time thisseason he has been sidelined with back issues. ... Mariners RF
Ichiro Suzuki, 16 hits short of a record 200-hit season, missed hisseventh straight game (strained left calf) but he is expected toreturn Monday. ... Seattle RHP Ian Snell, hit on the right wrist bya line drive Saturday, will make his next scheduled start. X-rayswere negative.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times