KANSAS CITY -- It was almost a perfect Friday night at Kauffman Stadium. Zack Greinke pitched a three-hit, 6-1 victory over the Tigers. A sellout crowd of 36,363 on a pleasant 79-degree evening urged him on. And by the time the Royals got home, they stood alone in first place.
The only flaw came when the Tigers scored in the fifth inning, ending Greinke's string of scoreless innings at 38. Well, that and the postgame fireworks being canceled because of high winds. But there was enough popping during the game to keep the fans vastly entertained.
Greinke was magnificent as he pitched his second straight complete game and boosted his record to 4-0. He struck out 10, boosting his total to 36 in 29 innings. And the Tigers' run scored on an error, so his ERA is still 0.00.
"It's just a magnificent job again -- that's all you can say," manager Trey Hillman said. "Just outstanding."
Greinke received all the runs he needed early. Mark Teahen belted a two-run homer off Tigers rookie Rick Porcello in the first inning, a drive into the left-field bullpen.
An unlikely basher, Alberto Callaspo, led off the second inning with a drive into the right-field Party Porch. It was the first home run of his Major League career after 441 at-bats (484 plate appearances), the longest such drought by any active player.
"I don't know, I was just lucky," Callaspo said. "I feel great, I was just fighting for a long time. Finally, I got it."
The Royals picked up two more runs in the fifth on a high throw past home plate by Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Coco Crisp knocked in the sixth run in the seventh.
It was Greinke, though, who was the darling of the jam-packed ballpark. The atmosphere was electric.
"It was incredible -- I don't know why there were so many people here tonight," he said.
Greinke knew about the popular fireworks draw but also thought there must have been some sort of giveaway. Nope, although it was Buck Night. Perhaps, it was suggested, many of the fans came just to see him pitch.
"That's probably not the case -- I hope it's not the case to tell the truth," Greinke said.
Well, he's too modest. This guy is on top of the American League in wins, strikeouts and ERA. That's pitching's Triple Crown.
And Greinke is a fine fielder, too, as he showed by almost stopping that one Tigers run from scoring after shortstop Mike Aviles' throwing error.
Gerald Laird led off the Tigers' fifth with a double to left field. Brandon Inge struck out, and Josh Anderson flied out to center field. Crisp threw to Aviles, whose relay struck Laird sliding into third base.
The ball bounced away, but Greinke, backing up third, made a quick retrieval as Laird trucked for home. Greinke's throw might have been in time, but the ball got out of catcher Miguel Olivo's mitt, and Laird slid in safely.
"I'm not sure what [umpire] Dana [DeMuth] would have called at the plate, but it was going to be a really close play if that ball hadn't gotten out of Miggy's mitt," Hillman said.
Olivo wasn't so sure.
"I tried to catch it and swing [for a tag], but I think he was past the plate," he said.
Greinke took it right in stride. His streak had included 24 innings this year and 14 at the end of last season.
"It happens, that's baseball," he said. "It's aggressive baserunning, aggressive fielding and it's just baseball. You can't predict anything. I got out of jams I shouldn't have got out of, and then they score on a ball that maybe they shouldn't have scored on. It evens out at the end."
Anyway, after the streak-busting run, Greinke walked back toward the mound with a big smile on his face.
"That was almost the best play of my entire life," he said, "but I didn't quite get it. That's what makes it exciting pitching out there -- doing stuff like that actually. And after that happened, I just got a big boost of energy."
Did he ever. Greinke mowed down the next 13 batters, making it 15 straight outs to finish the game. He went the distance at Texas last Saturday, too, so he became the first Royals pitcher to throw back-to-back complete games since, oddly enough, Jamey Wright during his first stint with the Royals in 2003.
"Mine was a loss and a win -- it wasn't two wins," Wright said, pointing out he lost to the Angels and then beat the Tigers.
He was out in the bullpen as Greinke closed in on his victory.
"I got up to throw in the ninth, and I threw one ball and I just sat there because I thought, 'I don't want to miss anything, I want to keep watching,' " Wright said.
It was something to watch.
"He dominated us," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "He looks like he's been pitching for 15 years. It took him some time, but he looks like a polished, veteran pitcher right now."
"It's fun to watch," Teahen said. "Maybe it was just the energy, but he looked unhittable. I'm just glad he's on our team."
Greinke deflected the credit, lavishing praise on pitching coach Bob McClure and Olivo, his catcher. Olivo appreciated it but returned the compliment.
"I think he's going to be a Cy Young pitcher someday," Olivo said. "I hope this year."
Completely dominant: Greinke dazzles | MLB.com: News