"They've got that kind of club," Kansas City manager Trey Hillman said. "They swing the bats. I said that the first day. You've got to pitch well against this club to beat them."
Actually, Greinke did pitch well enough to beat the Rangers. He gave up just two other hits, both singles. He walked none and struck out nine in his seven innings.
But the Royals' bats, which had produced a season-high nine runs in back-to-back games (one win, one loss), fell silent on a 77-degree, wind-blown afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Big right-hander Sidney Ponson baffled them for eight innings.
"Zack pitched great," Hillman said. "We got the pitching back, but couldn't put the offense with it."
Ponson caught the Rangers' attention at an open tryout in Florida this spring when he was out of work. This was his second outing, and he won for the first time in exactly a year. His last victory came May 1, 2007, at Tampa Bay when he was pitching for Minnesota.
David DeJesus had two of the six hits off Ponson.
"He was just throwing strikes, and he got ahead of a lot hitters today," DeJesus said. "He was able to mix in the slider with the running fastball, so he looked better than I've seen him for a while.
"He looked totally like a different pitcher from last year, when we faced him in Minnesota. He was throwing harder and he had more command of his stuff."
DeJesus is something of an expert on Ponson, inasmuch as he's 12-for-19 (.632) against the big guy in his career. He just wasn't able to pass anything along to the other Royals.
Ponson and closer C.J. Wilson dispensed with the Royals in 2 hours, 10 minutes. The only Kansas City run was driven in by Mark Grudzielanek's single in the third.
Kinsler led off the Rangers' first inning with a home run to left field.
"I went in on Kinsler on that first at-bat, even though I shouldn't have, and he hit it," Greinke said. "Then I settled down from there, and the defense came through."
Vazquez connected in the sixth on the first pitch he saw.
"First pitch -- I just wanted to get ahead, like I almost always do, and he just jumped on it instead of taking it," Greinke said.
This was Greinke's first loss after three victories. His ERA, which was second-best in the American League, inched up to 1.47.
"We kind of wasted a great Greinke start," teammate Mark Teahen said.
Ponson had not pitched eight innings in a game since 2005, when he was with Baltimore.
"Ponson looked great," Greinke said. "His sinker was really moving. The wind was blowing straight out, and it helped his sinker and it helped my curveball. It might have been an advantage for him today."
And for the Texas hitters, too, it seemed. In winning the last two games of the series, they totaled 13 runs on the strength of seven homers.
"They've been able to use the wind -- the home-field advantage, right?" DeJesus said.