"Is that the first one?" Greinke said. "That's exciting."
Oh, sure, like he didn't know. Greinke certainly did a bully job of expunging that zero by pitching six-plus shutout innings of the Royals' 2-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night.
Juan Cruz retired six straight batters and Joakim Soria pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the save as the bullpen recovered nicely from the Opening Day letdown by Kyle Farnsworth.
"It lined up pretty good for us tonight," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "I was glad Cruzy was able to get through both innings. We had Ronnie [Mahay] heated, but it was good to see him get through those lefties as well."
This was the first time the Royals shut out the White Sox in Chicago since Aug. 3, 1995, when Melvin Bunch, Billy Brewer, and Jeff Montgomery combined to pitch a 9-0 victory.Greinke got through six innings, nimbly dancing around two singles, two walks and a hit batter. When Jermaine Dye led off the White Sox seventh with their third hit, Hillman summoned Cruz. The Sox didn't get another baserunner.
White Sox starter Gavin Floyd roared through the first eight Royals batters with four strikeouts and looked in perfect-game fettle.
"The funny thing is, he has that kind of stuff," the Royals' Mike Aviles said. "That guy is very talented. He comes at you and doesn't let up, so I was fortunate to get a ball up and was able to drive it."
Aviles, the No. 9 batter, drove a double to the center-field wall and immediately scored as Coco Crisp's double bounced off the warning track over the fence.
Aviles scored again in the fifth after leading off with a single, though he was almost picked off rounding first base. Right fielder Dye's throw to catcher A.J. Pierzynski just missed. But Aviles heard the catcher's footsteps behind him, was warned by first-base coach Rusty Kuntz and got his hand back just before Pierzynski flopped on him.
After advancing on a wild pitch and Crisp's bunt, Aviles crossed home as Mark Teahen singled to right.
Teahen, by the way, not only had two hits but made a gliding stop to his right and whirled to throw out swift Dewayne Wise in the eighth inning. Yep, that's Teahen the second baseman.
"I'm starting to look more and more like one, so I'll take it," he said.
Greinke dutifully made note of the play, made while Cruz was pitching.
"Solid defense," Greinke said. "Teahen made a web gem so it was nice out there."
And Greinke made a pitching gem, getting seven strikeouts.
"He was pretty darn good. I mean 95 [mph], just painting, inside, outside, up and down," Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "He had a good slider, a good curveball. That's what he can do. We've seen him like that before and he's tough. You have to match him pitch for pitch and Gavin tried."
Gavin even got nine strikeouts in his seven innings but couldn't beat Greinke.
The White Sox began their second with Jim Thome's walk and Dye's single, but Greinke induced a double play and got Pierzynski to roll out.
"They had a couple guys on in the second inning and if I made one bad pitch, it could've looked like a completely different game," Greinke said.
There was one disquieting moment when, after Carlos Quentin absorbed a Greinke pitch on his back, he made a step toward the pitcher but was quickly diverted toward first base. Greinke thought Quentin's reaction was probably residue from a wayward pitch over the batter back in the first inning.
"That was scary," Greinke said. "It was right at his head."
But nothing came of it and the bullpen gave Greinke a perfect ending to his evening.
"Cruz looked 'sick' today, everything was working, locating everything," Greinke said. "Soria didn't look like he was on, but he made the pitches when he had to."
And the Royals had rebounded from the Opening Day disappointment.
"Hopefully that's a sign of our maturity as a team," Teahen said. "We can take a tough loss like yesterday and come back and play good quality baseball and win a ballgame."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.