Royals send Hillman off as a winner

Royals send Hillman off as a winner

KANSAS CITY -- Royals general manager Dayton Moore told Trey Hillman he was out as manager and then gave him an option. He could just walk away or he could manage Thursday's game.

"I was thankful to get to manage today," Hillman said. "You don't want to go out on a seven-game losing streak, that's for sure."

And he didn't.

Zack Greinke and the Royals made a long-overdue drive onto victory lane. After seven straight losses, the Royals rose up to defeat the Cleveland Indians, 6-4. After seven straight starts without a win, Greinke finally got his first one this year.

With the Kauffman Stadium crowd of 28,361 alive with screaming kids attending School Day at the K, there was finally good reason for noise. This was Greinke's first post-Cy Young Award victory, and it ended the Royals' longest skid since 10 straight last July.

How were Hillman's emotions as he watched this unfold?

"I wanted to appreciate it and I wanted to win," Hillman said. "I didn't want to go into an eight-game losing streak."

And before he headed for the door, Hillman discussed the last of his 152 victories with the Royals.

"Zack had more reach-back velocity. We saw it in the first inning after the leadoff triple," Hillman said. "Zack had more of what we saw last year, and that makes me real hopeful for the rest of the season for him and for the Royals."

Among Cy Young winners, Greinke was one of the slowest to record his first victory after an award-winning season. He's now 1-4. Only Frank Viola, the 1988 winner, lost more decisions in the following year before winning -- "Sweet Music" was 0-5 for Minnesota in 1989 and then beat Boston. Like Greinke, 2005 winner Bartolo Colon went 0-4 in his next injury-plagued year before posting a win for the Angels.

Greinke ran up a lot of pitches early and yielded three runs in the third inning but then settled in and eased through six innings. By then he'd thrown 112 pitches and he gave way to the bullpen.

"I thought we had a lot of good at-bats against Greinke," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "We were able to get his pitch count up and do what we wanted to do."

Alberto Callaspo's three-run homer off left-hander David Huff pulled the Royals even at 3 in the fourth inning. David DeJesus led off with a single and Jose Guillen walked before Callaspo put a drive over the left-field wall. It was his sixth homer and gave him a club-high 22 RBIs.

Hillman also noted that the next three runs all came on two-out hits, a commodity often lacking.

"That's been one of the thorns in our side here most recently," he said.

The Royals gave Greinke a 5-3 lead in the fifth inning. Yuniesky Betancourt doubled and, after two outs, DeJesus looped a single to center and got him home. Billy Butler followed with an RBI double to deep right-center.

Mitch Maier's two-out single and Betancourt's second double added a sixth run in the sixth.

The Indians picked up one run against Robinson Tejeda in the eighth on Asdrubal Cabrera's RBI single, his third hit. Dusty Hughes got the final out of the inning when Callaspo, rushing hard into foul ground, made a back-to-the-infield catch of Grady Sizemore's popup.

Joakim Soria pitched a scoreless ninth to notch his eighth save.

"We played good today. Defense and everything was good," Greinke said.

Then came the word that Hillman was dismissed.

"There's never a good time. No matter what, it's going to be awkward and it's going to feel like it's the wrong time," Greinke said.

Will the change to Ned Yost as a manager make a difference?

"I don't know. We'll see," Greinke said. "We need to start winning."

As Hillman knows only too well.

CY YOUNG FOLLOW-UP
The following chart outlines all Cy Young winners and the number of losing decisions with which they began the following season before picking up their first victory.
Cy Young Year NL AL No. of decisions in following year before first win
1956 Don Newcombe 1
1957 Warren Spahn 0
1958 Bob Turley 0
1959 Early Wynn 1
1960 Vern Law 3
1961 Whitey Ford 0
1962 Don Drysdale 0
1963 Sandy Koufax 0
1964 Dean Chance 0 -- although he did blow a save before getting his first W
1965 Sandy Koufax 0
1966 Sandy Koufax Retired after '66
1967 Mike McCormick Jim Lonborg McCormick: 2; Lonborg: 3
1968 Bob Gibson Denny McLain Gibson: 0; McLain: 0
1969 Tom Seaver Denny McLain/Mike Cuellar Seaver: 0; McLain: 2; Cuellar: 0
1970 Bob Gibson Jim Perry Gibson: 1; Perry: 1
1971 Ferguson Jenkins Vida Blue Jenkins: 2; Blue: 3
1972 Steve Carlton Gaylord Perry Carlton: 1; Perry: 0
1973 Tom Seaver Jim Palmer Seaver: 2; Palmer: 0
1974 Mike Marshall Catfish Hunter Marshall: 1 (also had one SV); Hunter: 3
1975 Tom Seaver Jim Palmer Seaver: 0; Palmer: 0
1976 Randy Jones Jim Palmer Jones: 1; Palmer: 1
1977 Steve Carlton Sparky Lyle Carlton: 1; Lyle: 0 (also had 1 SV)
1978 Gaylord Perry Ron Guidry Perry: 0; Guidry: 1 (also had 1 SV)
1979 Bruce Sutter Mike Flanagan Sutter: 1 (also had 4 SV); Flanagan: 1
1980 Steve Carlton Steve Stone Carlton: 0; Stone: 0
1981 Fernando Valenzuela Rollie Fingers Valenzuela: 0; Fingers: 1
1982 Steve Carlton Pete Vuckovich Carlton: 1; Vuckovich: Earned no wins, made only 3 starts
1983 John Denny LaMarr Hoyt Denny: 1; Hoyt: 0
1984 Rick Sutcliffe Willie Hernandez Sutcliffe: 0; Hernandez: 0 (also had 1 SV)
1985 Dwight Gooden Bret Saberhagen Gooden: 0; Saberhagen: 0
1986 Mike Scott Roger Clemens Scott: 0; Clemens: 2
1987 Steve Bedrosian Roger Clemens Clemens: 0; Bedrosian: 2 (also had 12 SV)
1988 Orel Hershiser Frank Viola Hershiser: 1; Viola: 5
1989 Mark Davis Bret Saberhagen Davis: 2 (also had 5 SV); Saberhagen: 0
1990 Doug Drabek Bob Welch Drabek: 3; Welch: 1
1991 Tom Glavine Roger Clemens Glavine: 0; Clemens: 1
1992 Greg Maddux Dennis Eckersley Maddux: 0; Eckersley: 1 (also had 5 SV)
1993 Greg Maddux Jack McDowell Maddux: 0; McDowell: 1
1994 Greg Maddux David Cone Maddux: 0; Cone: 0
1995 Greg Maddux Randy Johnson Maddux: 0; Johnson: 0
1996 John Smoltz Pat Hentgen Smoltz: 1; Hentgen: 1
1997 Pedro Martinez Roger Clemens Martinez: 0; Clemens: 0
1998 Tom Glavine Roger Clemens Glavine: 3; Clemens: 0
1999 Randy Johnson Pedro Martinez Johnson: 0; Martinez: 0
2000 Randy Johnson Pedro Martinez Johnson: 0; Martinez: 0
2001 Randy Johnson Roger Clemens Johnson: 0; Clemens: 0
2002 Randy Johnson Barry Zito Johnson: 2; Zito: 0
2003 Eric Gagne Roy Halladay Gagne: 0; Halladay: 2
2004 Roger Clemens Johan Santana Clemens: 0; Santana: 0
2005 Chris Carpenter Bartolo Colon Carpenter: 0; Colon: 4
2006 Brandon Webb Johan Santana Webb: 0; Santana: 0
2007 Jake Peavy CC Sabathia Peavy: 0; Sabathia: 3
2008 Tim Lincecum Cliff Lee Lincecum: 1; Lee: 2
2009 Tim Lincecum Zack Greinke Lincecum: 0; Greinke: 4

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.