Kansas City, Mo. ( Associated Press) – Zach Grinke allowed just one run off four hits in his 500th career opening day, helping the Kansas City Royals avoid a three-game sweep as they beat the Texas Rangers 2-1 on Wednesday.
Kansas City’s Kyle Isbell provided the winning cushion with his second home run in as many games.
Greinke (2-4) is the 48th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to start 500 games, and the only active pitcher to reach that milestone. He was as underrated after the game as ever, but acknowledged the importance of the day.
“I am not interested in numbers, but I came to know about it after the last game. I think that’s a pretty neat number. It seems like a lot of games,” said Greenke, who went in six innings, hitting three and running one.
Royals manager Mike Matheny was more impressed.
“Trying to start your head around 500, it’s amazing,” he said. “You can’t see a lot of people moving forward who are going to be able to do something like this as well as they did it.
“Then, to go up against a really good offense that has given him trouble in the past and starts like that, I thought the first innings was a sign of who Jack Greinke is. … he was in control of what he wanted to do . that’s impressive.”
The Royals’ three relievers combined for three strikeouts and allowed one hit in three innings, and Scott Barlow made his 10th save in 12 opportunities with a perfect ninth inning.
Dan Dunning (1-6) of Texas suffered his first defeat this season for less than three runs. He gave six hits in six innings, three on the go and three in striking.
Royals scored a run in the bottom half of the first on an RBI single by MJ Melendez. Hunter Dossier was thrown out to the plate in an attempt to make it 2-0.
Rangers’ Leody Tavares tied it in fifth place with a leadoff home run that cleared the wall into right field. It was his first homer of the season.
Isbell answered that with his second home run of the season, a line drives into the seats in right field.
“I feel like I’m making good decisions at the plate,” Isbell said. “I’ve changed some of the swing but the most important thing is that I’m hitting pitches that I can handle.”
Grinke was drafted sixth in the first round of the 2002 draft and spent his first seven years with the Royals, returning to a one-year contract this previous season.
On his 500th start, he said, “I thought I pitched well and got some really good defense today.” And Isbell had a good game in every way, defense and hitting. Today’s match was good.”
Rangers 3B Josh Smith was back in the lineup after leaving Tuesday’s game with a right calf injury, after fouling a ball off his foot.
Rangers and Royals both have a holiday on Thursday. The Rangers will open the three-match series against the Yankees in New York; The starting pitchers have not been determined. The Royals will begin the three-match series in Detroit. RHP Brad Keller (2-9, 4.56 ERA) will start for KC, with Detroit’s starter determined.
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