Catcher Miguel Olivo fired a throw past first base in the eighth inning for an error that gave the Texas Rangers the winning run in their 2-1 victory on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
"That's an awfully tough play. If he makes it, it may be a Web Gem," Royals manager Trey Hillman said.
In the end, Rangers starter Kevin Millwood pitched a complete-game victory and both runs that his teammates scored were unearned. The result was the Royals' 16th loss in their last 19 games.
Reliever Ramon Ramirez was trying to maintain a 1-1 tie when he walked Milton Bradley to start the Rangers' eighth. Hank Blalock hit a tap in front of the plate and Olivo pounced on the ball.
"I was going full speed and I saw the runner going so fast. I grabbed the ball and tried to make a play," Olivo said. "If I'd have made it, it would've been a good play and we'd still be playing, but that's baseball."
Olivo's throw sailed past first baseman Ross Gload and Brandon Boggs, pinch-running for Bradley, zoomed around to score.
"He went a long ways for that ball and his body's going the opposite direction of the throw. ... It's tough to control your body," Hillman said. "If he makes the play, it's a great play."
The Rangers also got an unearned run against Royals starter Zack Greinke in the first inning. Shortstop Mike Aviles erred to open the game, making a high throw after fielding Joaquin Arias' grounder. Arias got around on Michael Young's single and Bradley's sacrifice fly.
That was all that Greinke gave up in his six innings. But he ran up his pitch count to 101, mostly by escaping jams in the third and fourth innings and stranding five.
Greinke had a somewhat whimsical strategy as he faced the highest-scoring lineup in the American League.
"I came out trying not to give up one run today," Greinke said, "because I was hoping if I tried not to give up even one, they'd limit it to three."
Well, they didn't get that three and both runs they did get were tainted. But they counted, and the Royals couldn't do much against Millwood.
The only run came in the fifth when Billy Butler singled and scored on Olivo's double, the first of his three hits. Olivo also singled in the ninth, putting two runners on base, before Millwood retired pinch-hitter Esteban German to end the game.
Greinke certainly wasn't assessing any blame on his catcher.
"Olivo played amazing today," Greinke said. "He got three hits and kept me in the right mind-set. It was one of his better games."
Greinke also noted that, despite the two harmful errors, he benefited from some stellar defense. Olivo jumped out for Ramon Vazquez's bunt and gunned him out in the third inning. And, notably, Joey Gathright leaped against the right-center-field wall for Blalock's drive in the sixth.
Now there was a Web Gem.
"You pretty much expect it from him," Greinke said. "Anyone else out there, you're hoping, hoping he'll catch it but with him, it's like you expect it."
There was also an exceptional play by Aviles in the seventh just after Ramirez took the mound. Gerald Laird, who had doubled and advanced on a bunt single, was on third base when Aviles went into the hole for Arias' grounder. Aviles lobbed a throw to Olivo and Laird was retired short of the plate.
Greinke also did some fancy work, fielding a shot off his right foot to convert an out on Young in the fifth. This caused some concern about his well-being.
"I'll take it every time if it gets an out, for the most part," he said. "Just a little bruise and I don't walk completely normal, but it'll be fine -- 100 percent by the next start."
Millwood needed just 94 pitches for his eighth victory and his second straight complete game.
"It's efficiency and changing speeds," Hillman said. "Obviously, he's not as powerful as he once was and he's not as powerful as Zack is but just the ability to move balls to both sides of the plate and the tight spin on his slider, making it look like a fastball. And just locating -- we unloaded at a lot of borderline pitches and some bad pitches. The veteran pitcher will get you to do that."
Greinke tried to put a positive spin on the tough loss.
"The great plays made up for the mistakes. The main thing is that Millwood did a great job," he said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less