As Detroit Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera is about to finish his career, Kansas City Royals right-hander Zack Greinke could have made the second-to-last start of his career in Tuesday's series opener at Comerica Park.
Greinke, who has an expiring contract but hasn't announced his retirement plan, tossed five scoreless innings on one hit and one walk with five strikeouts in is 35th appearance against the Tigers throughout his 20-year MLB career.
The Tigers couldn't beat Greinke but scored six runs across the sixth and eighth innings in Tuesday's 6-3 win. Akil Baddoo and Parker Meadows broke the tie — at two runs apiece — with back-to-back solo home runs off right-handed reliever Taylor Clarke in the eighth inning.
The Tigers (74-83) snapped the Royals' six-game winning streak and have tied the Cleveland Guardians for second place in the American League Central. Last week, the Minnesota Twins clinched the AL Central.
Greinke, 39, is scheduled to start for the Royals in Sunday's season finale. If his career ends, he will have posted a 2.77 ERA in 191⅔ innings against the Tigers, as well as a 2.24 ERA in 100⅓ innings at Comerica Park.
On Tuesday, Greinke shut down the Tigers through five innings.
He allowed a leadoff single to Meadows in the first inning, then picked off Meadows on a throw to first baseman Nick Pratto. The next two batters, Matt Vierling and Spencer Torkelson, were retired with a strikeout and flyout.
Another batter didn't reach safely until Torkelson's six-pitch walk with two outs in the fourth inning. Greinke took care of the free pass by getting Kerry Carpenter to ground into an inning-ending force out.
His slider struck out Javier Báez and Carson Kelly swinging in the third inning, and his changeup produced a swinging strikeout of Andy Ibáñez in the fifth inning. Zach McKinstry grounded out on a changeup below the strike zone for Greinke's final out to complete the fifth.
Cabrera finished 0-for-2 against Greinke.
Greinke, who threw 44 of 75 pitches for strikes, used 21 sliders (28%), 20 four-seam fastballs (27%), 13 curveballs (17%), 11 changeups (15%) and 10 sinkers (13%). The usage of his slider increased significantly compared to season averages.
The 2009 AL Cy Young winner has a 5.18 ERA in 29 games this season and a 3.49 ERA in 585 games in his career.
Against the bullpen
In the sixth inning, Torkelson attacked left-handed reliever Anthony Veneziano and delivered a clutch hit.
A one-out walk from Carson Kelly put a runner on base for the first time since the fourth inning, and an ensuing fielding error by second baseman Michael Massey put two runners on base in the same inning for the first time in the game.
Torkelson worked a full count before ripping a sixth-pitch changeup at the bottom of the strike zone for a double down the third-base line and into left field. Kelly and Meadows scored to tie the game, 2-2.
RBI number 89 and 90 from Tork to tie it! pic.twitter.com/fFXaNBwDU2
— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) September 27, 2023
Baddoo and Meadows received mistake pitches from Clarke in the eighth inning.
Both hitters made Clarke pay.
Baddoo, who has 11 home runs in 108 games this season, crushed a middle-middle 93.7 fastball with a 108.2 mph exit velocity for a 443-foot solo homer to right-center field. Meadows, who has three homers in 32 games, launched a middle-middle slider with a 104.2 mph exit velocity for a 369-foot solo homer to right-center field.
The Tigers increased their lead to 6-2 with RBI singles from Ibáñez and McKinstry off right-handed reliever Jackson Kowar.
Royals vs. Reese
Right-hander Reese Olson — in his final start of his rookie season — surrendered two runs (one earned run) on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. He threw 59 of 92 pitches for strikes.
The 24-year-old posted a 3.99 ERA in 21 games (18 starts).
The second inning could have turned into a disaster, but Olson held the Royals to one run despite five mistakes: fielding error, wild pitch, single, walk and balk. The rookie pitcher was responsible for the throwing error, as well as the other miscues.
The Royals took a 1-0 lead on Pratto's single. Olson bounced back from his balk and stranded two runners in scoring position when his slider struck out Maikel Garcia for the third out in the second inning.
Kelly, the catcher, threw out Garcia in the first inning and Bobby Witt Jr. in the third inning. Both runners were trying to steal second base. After Witt's single, Olson retired eight batters in a row before Witt hammered a middle-middle changeup for a triple to open the sixth inning.
Salvador Perez hit a single to score Witt for a 2-0 advantage.
Olson used 26 four-seam fastballs (28%), 22 sliders (24%), 20 changeups (22%), 16 sinkers (17%) and eight curveball (9%). He generated 22 whiffs with five fastballs, five sliders, seven changeups, two sinkers and three curveballs.
Right-handed reliever Beau Brieske allowed one run in the ninth inning.
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Next up: Royals
Matchup: Tigers (74-83) vs. Kansas City (54-103).
First pitch: 6:40 p.m. Wednesday; Comerica Park, Detroit.
TV/radio: Bally Sports Detroit; WXYT-FM (97.1).
Probable pitchers: Tigers — LHP Tarik Skubal (7-3, 2.95 ERA); Royals — TBA.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers can't beat Zack Greinke, crush K.C. bullpen in 6-3 win