Now that his shoulder is strong again, Bartolo Colon appears to have regained his Cy Young Award-winning form.
Colon (2-0, 1.93 ERA) missed two months early last season with shoulder inflammation, then was sidelined for the final two months after choosing rehab over surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff.
In 10 starts in 2006, Colon was 1-5 with a 5.11 ERA. He won the AL Cy Young Award in 2005 after going 21-8 with a 3.48 ERA in 33 starts with the Angels.
Facing Tampa Bay on Thursday, the right-hander threw 102 pitches over seven innings and struck out 11 in Los Angeles’ 11-3 rout.
“As you get more comfortable on the mound, you gain more strength,” Colon said through a translator after giving up two runs and four hits. “I expected to be stronger in my second start. I felt stronger after my first three innings than my last inning.
“But in that last inning, I told myself to let it loose to see how my arm was really feeling - because at that point I had built enough stamina.”
Colon is 13-7 with a 4.74 ERA in 23 career starts versus the Royals, and has won three of his last four starts in Kansas City (8-18).
Zack Greinke (1-2, 3.51) gets the start for the Royals, and will try to build off his best outing of the season. He limited Minnesota to four hits and four walks over seven innings Thursday, but didn’t factor in the 1-0, 11-inning loss.
“You don’t want to do that ever,” Greinke said of the Hunter beaning. “I just felt bad about it. He’s a good guy. Everybody knows that.”
Like Colon, Greinke also is rebounding from health issues - he missed all but the final two weeks of last season due to social anxiety disorder. Greinke is making only his fifth start at Kauffman Stadium since beating Detroit on Sept. 20, 2005, and has gone 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in four games - three starts - at home over that stretch.
Los Angeles got an RBI double from Chone Figgins in his season debut, and won the series opener 3-1 on Monday night. Figgins, a .267 hitter last year, broke two fingers on his right hand late in spring training.
Vladimir Guerrero’s two-run double in the first inning gave Los Angeles the early lead. Guerrero went 2-for-4 and now has two multihit games in his 14 visits to Kauffman Stadium.
Los Angeles has won five in a row in Kansas City, and 17 of 22 there since the start of the 2002 season.
Ryan Shealy drove in Kansas City’s lone run before leaving in the third with a tight left hamstring. The loss was the Royals’ third straight at home.