The Royals, and by extension we, have achieved the off-season.
They managed to check off two of the three things on their final checklist as Zack Greinke pitched - and pitched pretty well, all things considered! They also won the game, which means they only tied the franchise record for losses in a single season at 106. Unfortunately, Bobby Witt Jr. could not get his 50th steal as he reached on a single in the third but was picked off and the only other time he reached base was when he tripled in the bottom of the fifth and declined to attempt to steal home before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Salvador Perez.
The Royals did hit three home runs, today. The entire outfield went deep. First MJ Melendez in the second, then Edward Olivares and Dairon Blanco in the fourth inning. Blanco ended the day with three hits, total, along with a pair of stolen bases. He’ll enter the offseason with some nice warm fuzzies.
Also experiencing some warm fuzzies was Zack Greinke, though it wasn’t at all a sure thing as the game began. Greinke pitched five scoreless innings but the first three batters he faced reached via single. He managed to induce a 5-2-3 double play and a ground out to escape the jam unscathed. At the end of those five innings, as if to refuse to leave the stage on cue one final time, he came back out to pitch in the sixth inning. Zack walked lead-off man DJ LeMahieu and that, as they say, was that. Manager Matt Quatraro gave him the hook and Greinke walked off the mound at Kauffman Stadium for likely the final time to a standing ovation and finished it all with a curtain call.
In what might be his final game, Zack Greinke walks off the mound at Kauffman Stadium to a standing ovation. pic.twitter.com/fkK8ioTv6M— MLB (@MLB) October 1, 2023
Don’t sleep on what happened after that, though, as Carlos Hernández had a scoreless seventh inning, giving us some hope for his future, before James “The General” McArthur pulled off an impressive two-inning save, striking out four. Do not be surprised if a man the Phillies - a playoff team - gave up on in the middle of the season rightfully opens the 2024 season as the Royals’ closer. If you could remove his disastrous Royals debut, McArthur would finish the year with sub-2.50 ERA and FIP and minuscule walk and home run rates, each below one per eighteen innings pitched.
Prior to today’s victory, the Royals had lost their last fourteen series straight against the Yankees. I know that team was beyond demoralized and distracted, but a win is still a win. Also, they weren’t demoralized or distracted enough to do everything in their power the past two nights to make sure Bobby didn’t get that fiftieth stolen base. Bobby, as a matter of fact, has been caught stealing five times while stealing only one base in the past two weeks according to our own sterlingice in the comments of today’s game thread. Bobby then, to prove that very little of what pro athletes say matters or has any bearing on reality, stated during the post-game interview with a straight face that he doesn’t care that he didn’t get 50 stolen bases and he doesn’t chase statistics like that, just wins. The hyper-aggressiveness that allowed the Yankees to easily turn his baserunning endeavors the past two games into outs says otherwise.
I had hoped Greinke would give the post-game, on-field interview, and I’m sure the Royals asked him and he gracefully declined as is his right. I’m glad for his long career and that the Royals have never tried to force him to do more of that sort of thing than absolutely necessary. As noted above, it just doesn’t actually matter and if it's better for the player then I’m just as glad to see such an opportunity missed.
Tomorrow begins the long offseason for the Royals. Now all there is to do is wait and see when the Royals get around to finally picking a site for their new real estate development project.