Without knowing how many runs the Kansas City Royals' offense scored on Monday against the St. Louis Cardinals, many would look at a total of one run allowed all game and assume the outcome of a win. They'd also look at starting pitcher Zack Greinke's line of six innings, three hits given up and one earned run charged to him and lean in favor of him getting credited with the victory.
Neither of those outcomes happened.
Despite Greinke's terrific performance, the Royals mustered five hits and no runs all afternoon long. The offense went hitless in four opportunities with runners in scoring position and while some balls were either driven out towards the warning track or had impressive exit velocities (or both), they resulted in a blank scorecard at the end of the game. After the game, manager Mike Matheny spoke about Greinke's start and why it's demoralizing that he didn't come away with any run support.
"Terrific," Matheny said of the 38-year-old's outing. "[It's just a] shame to lose such a great start, not getting any support. Really, just one pitch, I know we say that a lot but he really executed pitches all day long. It was one slider that didn't do what he wanted it to do. Not very often is one pitch going to beat you, but it happened to the wrong hitter."
Matheny was spot-on about the slider. Outside of a curveball to rookie Brendan Donovan that didn't drop quite enough and a fastball to Paul Goldschmidt on a 3-2 count that was drilled at over 107 mph for a single, Greinke's lone poor outcome was on the slider. Up 0-2 on Goldschmidt all the way back in the first inning, Greinke left the offering right over the heart of the plate and it was clubbed for a solo home run. After that, he buckled down and pitched well enough to lower his season ERA to 2.57.
Of Greinke's two losses this year, both of them have come in 1-0 games. By all accounts, he's been borderline stellar and the Royals' offense has been poor. Part of his success has stemmed from the elite defense behind him, and center fielder Michael A. Taylor reminded the baseball world of that on Monday. To end the fifth inning, the Gold Glove winner propelled himself up the outfield wall to rob Andrew Knizner of a home run.
Alas, Greinke's performance on the mound and Taylor's run-saving play in the field weren't enough to win the game. The Royals' anemic offense failed to live up to expectations once again, and it currently ranks 25th or worse among all 30 MLB clubs in batting average, home runs, OBP and OPS. It's dead last in runs scored. That isn't a recipe for success, and the team's 7-14 record is the result. Matheny knows it, as do his hitters in the dugout.
"When you have a great defensive play, when you have a pitcher out there pitching his heart out, you hear it in there," Matheny said. "'Let's get him some, let's go, this is where it turns around' but [we're] just having trouble putting them (hits) on top of each other."