Final Score: ANGELS 1, Royals 0
Rev Halofan Reporting: Joe Saunders and Zack Greinke dueled complete games and a 3rd inning Chone Figgins sacrifice fly to score Gary Matthews Jr was the difference.
It was Greinke's first loss. It was a 5-hit shutout for Saunders. The Angels are above .500 for the first time since opening day, a game which was also not so coincidentally a shutout by Saunders.
While Greinke gave up only 4 hits in the game, the little things made the difference as a leadoff double in the 3rd by Matthews was cashed in after an Erick Aybar bunt moved him over to 3rd base. The run raised Greinke's ERA for the season to 0.51 while Saunders saw his lowered to 2.66 - you gotta wonder if we were not seeing future AL All Star teammates on the mound in the top and bottom of each inning.
The Angel Stadium crowd of 39,000+ roared the loudest for the 2nd out of the 9th inning when former Angel Jose Guillen struck out swinging on a full count, followed by a fly ball off the bat of Billy Butler to Centerfielder to Torii Hunter to end one of the great regular season pitching duels of the decade.
Of course, I am biased, but after an offseason of reading that regression from excellence for Joe Saunders was an absolute certainty based on all statistical models, the results that his 101 pitches thrown on Friday night amounted were a sly and defiant repudiation of putting theoretical assumptions ahead of the human ability to make adjustments.
While there is no narrative quite as touching as Greinke's overcoming Social Anxiety Disorder to regain the dominance expected of a #1 pitching Draft Pick, Saturday's simple slaying of statistical shibboleths by Saunders was a kick in the head!