I don’t know how often I’ll do one of these, but hey, as long as Zack keeps setting records, I feel obligated to report on them. So while we wait to see if the Royals can pull off a winning April, enjoy these stat nuggets. Some of these you know, some of them you probably don’t.
- Zack Greinke is the first pitcher in Royals history to go 5-0 in April.
- Greinke is the third pitcher in Royals history to win his first five starts of the season. Bret Saberhagen holds the record, with six consecutive wins to start his 1987 campaign. (He threw 51 innings in those six starts, which goes a long way towards explaining why he went 15-3, 2.47 before the Break – and 3-7, 4.61 afterwards.) The only other Royal to be starts is Al Fitzmorris, in 1973*.
*: Okay, I have to report this: Fitzmorris didn’t make his season debut in 1973 until July 15th, going six solid innings, allowing three runs, walking one batter – but not striking anyone out. He didn’t make his second start until 12 days later, and threw a complete game shutout – and again, didn’t strike anyone out. In his next three starts, his lines were: 7 7 2 2 2 1, 6 4 1 1 1 1, and 9 7 1 1 1 0.
Add it all up, and Fitzmorris was 5-0 with a 1.70 ERA, having allowed just 32 hits and eight walks in 37 innings – with TWO STRIKEOUTS. That might be, in its own way, the most amazing stretch of pitching in the history of the world. His BABIP in that stretch, for the record, was .225. And you all thought Brian Bannister was lucky.
- Going back to last season, Greinke has actually won eight starts in a row. This ties a franchise record previously accomplished by three pitchers: David Cone in his Cy Young season of 1994, Bret Saberhagen in his Cy Young season of 1989…and Rich Gale in his decidedly un-Cy Young season of 1980.
(I should point out that Saberhagen won eight straight starts from July 26th to August 31st that year…and then won six straight starts from September 9th to September 30th. Saberhagen won 14 games in 15 starts – not 15 decisions, 15 starts – with a 1.52 ERA over that span. I don’t know if Greinke is pitching better than anyone in a Royals uniform ever has – but at least I know who set the bar he’s trying to clear.)
- Greinke still has a way to go to match the longest winning streak in Royals history; Rich Gale won 11 in a row in 1980, and Paul Splittorff won 11 in a row between 1977-78. Kevin Appier won nine in a row in 1992.
- Greinke has now struck out at least 7 batters in five consecutive starts. That doesn’t sound like much, but it matches the longest streak in Royals history, set by Appier in 1996. (There have been five streaks of four starts in a row with 7 or more strikeouts: three by Appier, and one by Tom Gordon.)
- I’m not going to go through all the various ways to describe Greinke’s scoreless innings streak. But I thought this was a fun way to put things in perspective. Greinke went six consecutive starts without surrendering an earned run. Since 1997, only three other pitchers (Paul Byrd, Gil Meche, and – of all people – Brandon Duckworth) have gone more than six consecutive starts without surrendering a home run.
Finally, you know how I was writing that we may have been a little harsh on Trey Hillman? Here’s more proof – just look at his competition. Wow. This would be the equivalent of Hillman pinch-hitting for Mike Aviles with Tony Pena, only if Pena had already changed into street clothes and they had to hold up the game for five minutes while he got dressed.