Minneapolis With their middle relief in shambles, the Kansas City Royals need Zack Greinke to be almost perfect to have a chance to win these days. Too bad for them that he hasn’t looked anything like his Cy Young-winning self early this season.
Greinke walked five in just five innings, getting outpitched by Scott Baker in the Royals’ 10-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Friday in the first night game at Target Field.
Greinke (0-2) gave up six hits and four runs — two earned — with five strikeouts. After giving up four earned runs in his first eight starts on his way to the AL Cy Young Award last year, Greinke has already given up seven earned runs in three starts this season.
“I just think my mind’s not right on how to pitch because every game I’ve been able to throw the ball close to where I want,” said Greinke, who went 16-8 with a 2.16 earned-run average last season in one of the best years by a pitcher in franchise history. “I’m just not getting the job done.”
Baker (2-1) looked like the real ace on a cool night under the lights at the new ballpark. He gave up two runs and seven hits with six strikeouts and no walks against a Royals lineup that entered the game leading the American League with a .307 team batting average.
With the ballpark glowing beautifully under a pitch black sky, Michael Cuddyer had two hits and three RBIs, and the disciplined Twins lineup forced Greinke to throw 108 pitches to get through five innings.
“Our game play against Greinke is hope he has an off night,” said Orlando Hudson, who had two hits and two RBIs. “He is not a fun guy to face.”
Yuniesky Betancourt had three hits, including a 420-foot solo homer to center field, and two RBIs for the Royals.
After a pedestrian first two outings by his impeccable standards, Greinke couldn’t find the plate in the first inning against the Twins. He walked Denard Span and Hudson to start the game, but the Twins let him off the hook when Joe Mauer rolled over to second on a fielder’s choice and Justin Morneau chased an eyebrow-high fastball for strike three.