And well rested, after Zack Greinke followed Brian Bannister's complete-game victory with a complete-game win of his own.
To give you an idea: Greinke struck out Jose Lopez on a 96 mph fastball in the 9th inning.
About 15 minutes later on Baseball Tonight, Buck Showalter commented that Greinke looked almost bored out there, as if he was wondering, Which pitch should I use now to get a strikeout? And at the show's conclusion, Showalter selected Greinke's performance as the night's most significant happening. "Don't let a young club get their sea legs under them," he said.
And about Greinke: "He's capable of big things, this guy's got special stuff."
Special, indeed. He was helped by double plays in the first two innings, then was an Ichiro half-step away from getting out of the 3rd with his shutout intact, but the stuff he threw was absolutely beautiful. After the Mariners' first and only run, the next eight that walked out of the home dugout took a couple hacks and made quick U-turns back to their seats, many of them after grounding out to Mark Grudzielanek. When all was said and done, a measly "5" showed under Seattle's hit column. You think the Mariners might have been consoled by the fact that their efforts actually bumped Greinke's ERA up to 0.75?
Billy Butler drilled his first home run of the year in the 2nd, and Miguel Olivo followed with a two-run homer a few batters later (with Jose Guillen on second). And on the field -- besides the double plays (three total) -- Mark Teahen turned in Baseball Tonight's No. 1 Web Gem, a jumping grab in the 8th to rob Yuniesky Betancourt of a possible home run. No one will confuse Teahen for Joey Gathright, but that was a great play. Yet all the while, it seemed, well, conventional. Everything good the Royals did seemed like they'd done it before. Part of the reason was Greinke, who set the tone from the onset, but another part may be because these Royals, just like Trey Hillman has preached, expect to do good things every time out. Fundamentals is the word. Make the play if the ball hits the glove, make no excuses, act like you've been done it before and will do it again. You've heard this before, of course -- every manager emphasizes fundamentals -- but we as fans have been so far removed from good baseball for so long that seeing it now, in real time, who can help but get unduly excited?
We go back to the thing Showalter said: "Don't let a young club get their sea legs under them." The Royals come back tomorrow with a late-afternoon game, and if the offense can finally come alive and score more than five runs (hasn't happened yet), carry the team to a two-game sweep, the Royals will have their ace going Wednesday in Anaheim with a chance to win four straight. Is that looking ahead too far? Perhaps. But we've been hoping for the best for too long around here to not indulge in this little bit of anticipating.
(In case you were wondering -- with the White Sox' loss to Oakland, the Royals are back in first place in the AL Central.)