Tuesday, April 10, 2007

First road win, and other firsts

Last year, it was in the 13th game on May 4 that the Royals finally notched their first road win, 1-0 in Minnesota.

This year: second game, April 10.

And on a night when that old ignominy -- the road winless streak -- was stopped dead in its tracks, there were these other notable firsts:

-- First home run for Alex Gordon, a blast down the right-field line (later selected the "Smash of the Night" on Baseball Tonight, with John Kruk saying, "Well Karl, it was just a sweet swing").

-- First ear-to-ear smile in the dugout afterwards.

-- First fourth triple of the year for Tony Pena Jr.

-- First career save for Joakim Soria.

The evening, though, belonged to Zack Greinke, who picked up his first W as a starter since September 20, 2005. It's good to see the Royals win a game they're supposed to, and with Greinke on the mound, there really wasn't that much doubt that they would.

In the bottom of the third, Grein-K (his website's moniker, not mine) struck out Vernon Wells on a change-up, this after blowing two 91-mph fastballs by him for strikes one and two.

Then in the next inning, in a highlight replayed several times on Baseball Tonight, Frank Thomas got called out on an inside fastball after whiffing on a breaking pitch off the corner of the plate. Over the course of the game, Thomas got set up more often than a thrice-divorced, overly tan, low-V-cut-wearing old housewife, mostly with off-speed stuff that forced him to play the guessing game with two strikes. Twice, in the words of Robert Frost, Thomas suffered "one of the hardest things to accept as just": a called third strike. And in the fourth, the ump punched him out with bravado, by delivering -- I kid you not -- a tiger uppercut, probably while screaming, HIIIIIIIUKE! I wish I had video of this. No wonder Thomas whirled around with an "Are you f*cking joking?" look on his face.

Anyway, after two games, Greinke's thrown 13 innings, given up two runs, struck out 12 and walked just one. That's cause to celebrate. Maybe we could invite 20 of his close friends and ask them to all chip in a dollar so we can buy him a new cap. You know, like one that fits.

Baby steps, Zack. We're behind you.

POSTSCRIPT: The Road hasn't been kind to the Royals in recent years, but it's one hell of a book.

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