Jays take Greinke deep, drub Royals
Overbay, Lind, Barajas all hit homers to support Romero
TORONTO -- A swing of the bat of Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay sent a fastball from the Royals' Zack Greinke rocketing out toward center field. Moments later, it cleared the wall just to the right of the 400-foot marker in the deepest part of the field, and with that, the streak had come to an end.
Overbay's second-inning home run was the first Greinke had allowed since Sept. 2, 2008, sending the Jays on their way to a 9-3 thrashing of the Royals on Friday, the 20th anniversary of Rogers Centre's opening.
Greinke had been nothing short of outstanding this season, entering Friday's contest with an 8-1 record and 1.10 ERA, but he looked human against the Jays, giving up seven runs (five earned). Meanwhile, Toronto's Ricky Romero was headed in the other direction, earning his first win since missing the end of April and most of May with a right oblique strain.
After going 111 consecutive innings without allowing a home run, the Jays tagged Greinke for two -- Overbay's second-inning dinger, and a solo shot from left fielder Adam Lind in the fifth.
With one out and no one on in the second, Overbay took a slider for a called strike before teeing up on a 2-2 fastball down the middle of the plate and sending it over the wall.
"He just missed his spot," Overbay said. "On the home run, he just made a mistake. He wanted to go down and away. He makes that pitch -- that's what makes him so good, is he doesn't make mistakes and when he does makes mistakes, you usually foul them off, so I was just fortunate enough to put good wood on it."
Friday's tilt was nearly the polar opposite of the Jays' last meeting with Greinke. In Kansas City on April 29, the Jays got out to a good start, scoring in the top of the first when shorstop Marco Scutaro hit a leadoff double and a single by center fielder Vernon Wells sent him home -- ending a streak of 43 innings in which Greinke had not allowed an earned run. From there, though, Greinke shut the Jays' bats down, allowing only one more run through his seven innings, while the Royals powered their way to an 11-3 victory.
While Friday's game got off started much the same -- Scutaro doubled and Wells singled him home in the opening frame -- the similarities ended there. Toronto got a hit in each of the five innings Greinke pitched for a total of nine over that span.
"We discussed what he did to us last time, and all we really wanted to do as a team was just lay off the slider," Lind said. "If we could do that, we could maybe force him to throw some fastballs over the plate.
"Last time we were swinging at all his offspeed pitches, and we took a lot of those tonight."
While Friday's game was a definite plus for the Jays' offense -- Overbay extended his hitting streak to 11, Scutaro was 3-for-4 and the team as a whole put 13 men on base over the course of the game -- it was also a step in the right direction for Romero.
The Jays' rookie pitcher got out to a strong start to his Major League career before going on the disabled list on April 23 (retroactive to April 20) with an oblique strain, but had struggled in two starts since his return.
Romero shut out the Royals through the first six innings, allowing only two base hits and two walks. The only hiccup came in the seventh, as right fielder Jose Guillen and designated hitter Mike Jacobs hit back-to-back home runs off Romero.
"I'm still not as sharp as I wanted to be," Romero said. "I'm still having trouble with some of my pitches, but it's a good start. ... I still have some work to do, and I haven't gotten a feel for that changeup that I had earlier in the year.
"I still don't have a feel for my two-seamer. I worked off my four-seamer. I think this is the most I've worked off my four-seamer all season. That's what I did today -- just kind of working the corners and throwing my breaking ball in for two strikes."
Even after Romero gave up three runs on the two homers, the game still wasn't close. After Scutaro scored in the first and Overbay homered in the second to give the Jays a 2-0 advantage, Toronto blew the game open in the third. A pair of singles by Scutaro and Lind, a pair of doubles by right fielder Alex Rios and Overbay, a wild pitch from Greinke and a throwing error by Royals shortstop Tony Pena plated four runs -- only two of which were earned. That put the Jays ahead, 6-0.
Lind took Greinke deep to left field in the fifth to give Toronto a commanding 7-0 lead, and catcher Rod Barajas hit a two-run shot in the eighth, adding a pair of runs to make it 9-3.
Despite the Jays' offensive outburst, manager Cito Gaston was happy the team won't have to face Greinke again this year, as the two teams are not scheduled to meet again in 2009 after this series.
"He got some pitches where he didn't want to get them tonight, and our guys hit them," Gaston said. "I'm glad we don't have to see him until next year. He's a good pitcher. He's going to be a great pitcher if he can pitch like he has in the past."
While a win is always appreciated, Overbay also got some satisfaction out taking the shine off Greinke's numbers.
"We've got Doc [Halladay] over here that we've got to get into the Cy Young [Award]," Overbay said, suppressing a smile. "So that's what it's all about. We've got to represent and take him down."
Erika Gilbert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.