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Greinke Gets Standing Ovation after 220th Start as a Royal


By Anne Rogers,


KANSAS CITY, Mo. –  As Zack Greinke walked off the mound in the fourth inning Wednesday afternoon, the crowd at Kauffman Stadium rose to its feet and gave the veteran pitcher a standing ovation.

For a quick moment, Greinke acknowledged the fans, raising his hands toward the stands before finding where his family was sitting and waving to them.

“That was nice,” Greinke said after the Royals’ 6-2 win and sweep over the Guardians. “Getting close to the end of the season, so it was cool.”

As Greinke nears the end of his career, he continues to hit milestones and rise on leaderboards. To be clear, we don’t know what the future holds for the 39-year-old starter; he hasn’t stated publicly what his intentions are when he becomes a free agent at season’s end.

But we can enjoy whenever he does step onto the mound, however many more times he does it. The Royals could skip his turn in the rotation in Detroit next week to line him up for one more start at The K next weekend in the final series of the season against the Yankees, possibly inthe final game of the season.

Greinke will have to see how he feels first; the Royals checked on him in the top of the second Wednesday because his arm wasn’t loosening up normally during his warmup.

“It’s playing that way, but I don’t know for sure,” Greinke said. “Something happened with my elbow that second inning. I think it’s good, but that was kind of weird. So if that starts feeling good, which I think it will [he’ll be lined up for another start].”

With five strikeouts Wednesday against the team with the lowest strikeout rate in baseball, Greinke now has 1,094 strikeouts as a Royal across his two stints in Kansas City. That moves him into fourth place all-time in club history, surpassing Bret Saberhagan’s 1,093.

On Wednesday, he outsmarted the Guardians with his fastball the first three innings before they adjusted and scored two in the fourth. After Josh Naylor’s double, Greinke got Kole Calhoun swinging on a changeup for his fifth strikeout before allowing back-to-back hits on fastballs to end his day.

“That was not expected,” Greinke said of the strikeouts. “It seemed like a decent amount of them were on fastballs. I might have tried doing it too much because the last inning, I gave up two hits on fastballs with two strikes.”

Wednesday was also Greinke’s 220th career start as a Royal, breaking a tie with Larry Gura for sixth-most in franchise history. And it was his 539th career start, breaking a tie with Red Ruffing for 34th all-time in Major League history.

Greinke is 28 strikeouts away from 3,000 in his career, which would make him the 20th pitcher in Major League history to reach that milestone.

Aside from Greinke, the focus for the Royals is mostly about the future. Angel Zerpa’s performances lately fall into that category. The 23-year-old was excellent Wednesday following Greinke with 5 1/3 scoreless innings, four strikeouts and no walks as he finished the game without allowing a runner to reach third base in the final five innings.

“They have a plan for me when I go to pitch,” Zerpa said. “They tell me I need to move the fastball up, fastball down. Slider down. And go attack the hitters.”

Offensively, the Royals have shown signs of improvement lately. Nelson Velázquez has been a solid pickup for the Royals since the Trade Deadline, mashing his 12th homer with the team in 33 games since joining Kansas City and 15th overall this season on Wednesday. MJ Melendez, after a rough first half, has had a more consistent second half, and with three walks Wednesday, he’s walked (15) more than he’s struck out (11) in September.

Bobby Witt Jr. and Maikel Garcia have established themselves as the linchpins of the future lineup and infield with their excellent seasons.

But Greinke, at least publicly, isn’t ready to talk about the future. Not his.

“I don’t know,” Greinke said when asked if he’s thought about his future or made any decisions.

Maybe it crossed his mind, though, when he walked off the mound Wednesday. It’s rare to see him acknowledge the crowd like he did.

“They know what he’s meant not only to the city but to the game of baseball, and it’s impressive that they acknowledged that today,” manager Matt Quatraro said. “Hopefully he has more in him. But if that’s not the case, this would be a nice send off for him.”