Zack Greinke pitches Royals to 5-2 win over Yankees in what could be his career finale

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Zack Greinke receives a standing ovation as he comes out of the Royals' final game of the season, during the sixth inning of a baseball against the New York Yankees, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Zack Greinke threw four-hit ball into the sixth inning for his 225th win and, backed by a trio of home runs, helped the Kansas City Royals beat the New York Yankees 5-2 on Sunday to end their season and quite possibly his own 20-year big league career.

Greinke (2-15) had just allowed a leadoff walk when Matt Quatraro walked to the mound. The six-time All-Star tried to give his manager the ball but Quatraro gave it right back, and the 39-year-old Greinke stuck it in his pocket as he walked off the mound to a standing ovation — one that required the famously reserved Greinke to come out for a curtain call.

Greinke can become free agent after this season, and while he has yet to announce whether he will retire, the 2009 Cy Young Award winner has had a challenging year. Greinke’s only other win this season game May 3 against the Baltimore Orioles.

Michael King (4-8) had a forgettable finale to an otherwise excellent end of the year for New York. He’d allowed one earned run or fewer in his previous seven starts before serving up a trio of homers among eight hits that led to four runs Sunday.

Late-season revelation James McArthur got the final six outs for Kansas City for his fourth save.

The Royals went 56-106, matching the franchise record for losses in a season. The Yankees finished 82-80, clinching a winning record for the 31st straight season with their win Saturday but still their worst since 76-86 in 1992. Star Aaron Judge, who did not play, stood at the dugout rail and stared at the field following the final out.

The Yankees also had their 15-series winning streak against the Royals snapped on Sunday, which dated to May 15, 2015. That was their second-longest streak against any team after a 21-series run against the Boston Red Sox from 1930-33.

MJ Melendez tagged the first of the Royals’ homers, all of which rode an early October breeze to left field, leading off the second inning. Nick Pratto drove in Dairon Blanco later in the inning to stake Kansas City to a 2-0 lead.

Edward Oliveras and Blanco added their home runs off King one batter apart in the fourth inning, and the Royals made it 5-0 in the fifth when Bobby Witt Jr. tripled leading off and Salvador Perez followed with a sacrifice fly.

The Yankees got two runs back in the sixth on Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s two-out single off Taylor Clarke, but the Kansas City bullpen shut them down the rest of the way.


Judge said before the game he’s talked with owner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman about what could change before next season. Judge also said he supports manager Aaron Boone leading the club.

“We have a good group of guys in here. I’m excited to build off what we’ve got here,” Judge said, “and if we can add a couple of more pieces down the road this winter, then we’ll be in a good spot.”


Witt became the first Royals player in the 30-30 club when he hit his 30th homer in the series opener, but he finished one steal short of becoming the fourth player ever in the 30-50 club. Witt was thrown out trying to steal second Saturday, then picked off first base Sunday, leaving him with 49 steals for the season.


The Royals had 1,307,052 attend home games this season, the third-worst total in the majors behind Miami and Oakland. Thanks in part to the pitch clock, and improved pace of play, that total still exceeded their attendance of 1,277,686 last season.


The Yankees play their spring training opener Feb. 24 against Detroit in Lakeland, Florida. The Royals play their spring opener the same day against Texas in Surprise, Arizona.


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