Zack Greinke pitched marvelously for his 12th victory, holding the Mariners to two hits over seven innings. He served notice that he was hot-wired in the first inning when Ichiro Suzuki, Yuniesky Betancourt and Raul Ibanez all struck out.
"We all know what kind of stuff Zack's got, but you had a pretty good idea after the first inning that it had a chance to be a special day for him," Hillman said.
It was all of that. Greinke retired the first eight batters he faced before Luis Valbuena doubled. The other hit was Ichiro's single in the sixth. For a bonus, the Ibanez strikeout was the 500th of Zack's career.
"That first inning when he struck out three up, three down, it makes it pretty easy to play defense," right fielder Mark Teahen said.
Shortstop Mike Aviles made it sound like Greinke didn't even need fielders.
"Do we play behind Zack? That's the question," Aviles said. "I mean, he was brilliant once again."
Greinke spotted a Mariners flaw right off the bat.
"One thing that hurt them is it looked like they were trying to be patient early in the game, and my goal was to attack them," he said. "And they were taking pitches they should have been swinging at."
By the fifth inning the Royals had given him a 9-0 lead.
"A 1-0 lead with Zack on the mound and it's kind of like you're cruising, he's got that kind of stuff," Aviles said. "He's that kind of a pitcher."
Aviles' three-run homer in the third inning gave the Royals a 4-0 lead over left-hander Ryan Feierabend and they just kept adding on. Eleven batters, including Teahen, who whacked two hits in the inning, came up in the five-run fourth. Alex Gordon banged a two-run double in the sixth.
"When everyone's hitting, it's a lot of fun," said Mitch Maier, who had two of the 13 hits.
It was such a rout that Hillman began using pinch-hitters in the fifth inning, sort of like a Spring Training game.
Aviles hit his first homer in a while -- he last connected on Aug. 3 against Chicago, 172 at-bats ago. This was a good sign because when Aviles hits a homer, the Royals are 8-0.
Ryan Shealy got an RBI single and has knocked in 11 runs in his past six games. Alberto Callaspo singled and ran his hitting streak to 12 games (12-for-25, .480). David DeJesus' RBI single gave him a nine-game streak (13-for-34, .382). OK, it wasn't all wine and roses -- Jose Guillen's 14-game streak came to an end.
The four-game sweep of the Mariners was the first since Sept. 19-21, 2005, when the Royals took four from the Detroit Tigers.
And this was the Royals' 69th victory, matching their total of last season with nine games remaining. They are 12-5 in September.
Greinke joined Gil Meche as a 12-game winner, marking the first time the Royals have had two pitchers win that many since 1998, when Tim Belcher won 15 and Pat Rapp won 12.
By the seventh inning, with a 12-run lead and after throwing 97 pitches, there was no need for Greinke to continue.
"I had a high pitch count," Greinke said. "I didn't pitch good enough to pitch a complete game."
OK, he's very modest. Jimmy Gobble came along to pitch a perfect eighth and Joel Peralta, after giving up the Mariners' third hit, finished the shutout.
Eight straight losses for the Mariners, seven straight wins for the Royals.
"It's a nice winning streak and I guess it's the biggest I've ever been on, and it just feels good," Greinke said. "It's a different feeling than we're used to feeling. You can feel good about yourself, for a while at least."
Gee, why didn't the Royals do this sooner?
"If I could tell you the secret, we'd start it early on. We'd take it in April," Teahen said.
Maybe next year.