Royals begin Bell era with a bang

Royals begin Bell era with a bang

KANSAS CITY -- Almost everything went right from the first pitch Zack Greinke made in the game.

Derek Jeter cracked that pitch deep, all the way to the center-field wall. Back, back went David DeJesus. He leaped high and came down with the ball.

Twenty-six outs later, the Royals had given Buddy Bell a 5-3 victory over the New York Yankees in his first game as manager.

Bell's Tuesday began in Cleveland with a 4 a.m. phone call from Royals general manager Allard Baird saying let's go to work. Two hours later, he was flying to Kansas City -- with a stop in Chicago. About 19 hours later, he was walking onto the Kauffman Stadium grass to shake hands with his victorious players.

"You know what, I feel great right now," Bell said, then added: "Whatever it takes to run a marathon, it feels like I did that."

Yes, it was quite a day and night. Bell, who had lost his managerial debuts for Detroit and Colorado, won this one. The Royals, who had lost six straight games, won this one. Greinke, who had lost all six decisions this year, won this one.

Bell, tired but happy, also was realistic.

"Overall, I was pleasantly surprised," he said, "But this has to happen every night and it's not going to happen every night."

This developed into one of those give-and-take games. Hideki Matsui pounded a two-run homer in the Yankees' second. The Royals bounced back against Kevin Brown to go up, 3-2.

The Yankees tied it on Bernie Williams' double and Jason Giambi's single. The Royals went ahead, 4-3, when second baseman Robinson Cano tried for a double play and fired the ball past first, allowing Ruben Gotay to score.

"They had a lot of energy, but it's a long season and I try not to get too hyped about any one victory or loss," Bell said.

When Greinke left after five innings, he was ahead, 5-3.

Then the bullpen got into the mix and whipped up four scoreless innings. Mike Wood and Andrew Sisco collaborated on three and Mike MacDougal pitched a perfect ninth for a save.

And the defense was photogenic.

"Everyone made the SportsCenter highlight today -- our whole team, pretty much," Greinke said.

There was first baseman Mike Sweeney's stretch for a hot liner. There was one of those Gotay-to-Angel Berroa laterals for a flashy out to start the ninth.

And, of course, there was DeJesus' leaping catch. Greinke has been, ahem, demonstrating to DeJesus how that's done during some friendly batting practice competition.

   Zack Greinke  /   P
Born: 10/21/83
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 200 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

"We've been working on that at the wall, showing him how it's done in BP so he's starting to get into that himself," Greinke said slyly.

That wasn't the only long shot. Alex Rodriguez sent Emil Brown to the shadow of the right-field wall to catch his shot.

"They hit two balls in the first inning where, in most ballparks, you're going to be down 2-0. But we came in and it was a zero," the Royals' Matt Stairs said.

Greinke (1-6) ended his drought even though he felt his pitching was sub-par.

"I was grooving balls. I was throwing hard, but right down the middle," he said. "That's why Jeter almost hit a home run, why A-Rod almost hit a home run. A couple of liners were caught and Matsui did hit a home run. So after that, I started pitching instead of throwing."

After Wood got into a two-on, two-out jam in the seventh, Sisco arrived to get pinch-hitter Gary Sheffield on a long drive to center. After a walk in the eighth, Sisco struck out Williams and Ruben Sierra to end the inning.

"They have a lot of good arms," said Yankees acting manager Joe Girardi, subbing for the suspended Joe Torre. "[Greinke] has pitched a lot better than his record indicates. That's a kid that's not afraid to throw a 2-0 changeup, a 3-2 curveball. That's how you win games."

Bell was no less impressed.

"If they pitch like that every night, it'll be good," he said.

In the Royals' book at 1-0, the new manager looked forward to a deep night's sleep. It had been a day of high elation and energy.

"It's the first time in my life I didn't have to do something to get my heart started," Bell said.

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