09/20 17:01 CDT Velzquez homers, Zerpa shuts down Guardians as KC finishes
sweep with 6-2 win
Velzquez homers, Zerpa shuts down Guardians as KC finishes sweep with 6-2 win
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) --- Zack Greinke walked off the mound at Kauffman Stadium
in the fourth inning Wednesday, acknowledging the ovation from a sparse
late-September crowd, and then watched Royals reliever Angel Zerpa completely
befuddle the Guardians the rest of the way in a 6-2 victory that wrapped up a
three-game series sweep.
If it was Greinke's last start for Kansas City, it certainly was memorable.
The 39-year-old former Cy Young winner allowed two runs on five hits while
striking out five. And while he departed with two outs in the fourth, which
meant Greinke didn't qualify for his first win since May, he did earn his
1,094th strikeout over his two stints in Kansas City, moving him past Bret
Saberhagen for fourth in franchise history.
"It's been great to see him to what he's been doing," the Royals' Bobby Witt
Jr. said. "What he's done has been awesome."
It might not be done, either.
The Royals have talked about honoring Greinke during their final homestand,
perhaps with a start in the season-finale against the New York Yankees. That
could depend on whether Greinke's elbow feels OK after he had trouble getting
loose between innings Wednesday; the feeling he could only describe as "not
normal" eventually resolved itself.
Asked about the departing ovation, Greinke replied: "It was cool." But he
refused to bite on any questions about his future beyond this season, including
whether the six-time All-Star could be contemplating retirement.
Meanwhile, Zerpa (3-3) allowed three hits the rest of the way, striking out
four without a walk. It was just the latest impressive performance by Kansas
City's bullpen, which has been responsible for their last eight wins.
Nelson Velzquez provided half of the Royals offense with his three-run shot in
the first. He has 12 homers in 33 games since arriving in Kansas City, and 11
of those have been in Kauffman Stadium, where deep alleys and a 410-foot center
field wall make it one of the most difficult ballparks in baseball to go yard.
Witt and Edward Olivares also drove in runs to help send the Royals on their
final road trip having won six of their past seven games. That includes their
first sweep of the Guardians since April 12-14, 2009.
"Certainly it's way better than the alternative," Royals manager Matt Quatraro
said. "Like we've talked about all year, I've been impressed with these guys
and the way they've approached it. You know, by no means is anyone in there
satisfied with what the total body of work is, but you can only play the games
that are scheduled that day."
Lucas Giolito (8-14) allowed four runs, three of them earned, on seven hits and
three walks in 5 1/3 innings for Cleveland. The rough outing came after the
right-hander tossed seven innings of two-hit ball against Texas last weekend.
"Didn't really have much of anything," Giolito said. "Just like a grinder."
Velzquez's three-run shot, which came after Cleveland made errors on its first
two defensive plays, made it 3-0 in the first. The Guardians got their only two
runs across in the fourth, when Zerpa came in and shut them down to the finish
"We were set up for Greinke and then that kid Zerpa came in and really pitched
well," Guardians manager Terry Francona said. "We knew he was tough on lefties,
but he got everybody out. He did a really good job."
The Royals are expected to hire longtime Braves scout Brian Bridges as their
new scouting director, though they have yet to make an official announcement.
The move comes after new White Sox general manager Chris Getz hired Royals
senior advisor Gene Watson and could be the start of several changes to Royals
GM J.J. Picollo's front office.
The Royals are pushing back a self-imposed deadline of the end of September for
deciding on a location for their new ballpark. The club is deciding between a
new location in Jackson County, where Kauffman Stadium currently sits, and a
competing effort from neighboring Clay County. The stadium will be a part of a
$2 billion development.
Guardians RHP Triston McKenzie (elbow) could return to the rotation Sunday
against Baltimore. He allowed two homers while throwing 62 pitches in his
second rehab start with Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday night.
The Guardians have yet to announce a starter for Thursday, when they begin a
four-game series against the Orioles. The Royals also have not announced a
starter for the opener of their trip Friday night in Houston. -__
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