Never-say-die Royals face Astros, Zack Greinke

MLB

The Kansas City Royals have 30 come-from-behind wins on the season, trailing only the Tampa Bay Rays (37), Boston Red Sox (35) and New York Yankees (32) in the American League. Considering the fact that the Royals have won just 51 games, that’s an impressive 59 percent of their victories.

This team doesn’t give up.

The Royals will host the Houston Astros for the third contest of a four-game series Wednesday night, looking to win their third straight. The AL West-leading Astros will send Zack Greinke (11-3, 3.51 ERA) to the mound against Brady Singer (3-8, 5.42) in a matchup of right-handers.

The Royals claimed their second straight come-from-behind win against the Astros Tuesday, 3-1, behind left-hander Daniel Lynch. After falling behind 1-0 in the third inning, the Royals tied the game in the fourth and scored the go-ahead runs in the sixth.

“We’ve talked about it a lot this year, because you can’t deny it,” Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said prior to Tuesday’s game about his team’s fight to the finish.

“It’s not common. “It’s developing character in our players. It’s developing some of the things that are really hard to teach — the grind and the overall fight it takes to get through 162 games. When you see it, it stands out as special. That’s why I continue to make a big deal of it.”

The Royals also have played 33 one-run games, going 17-16 this season — including 6-0 since the All-Star break. Tight games don’t bother them either.

“I think it’s just the fight in them,” Matheny said. “The fight is most easily seen in the comeback. I would prefer us not having to come back; I think our guys would prefer that as well.”

Greinke, the sixth overall pick by the Royals in the 2002 MLB draft, is with his sixth major league team. Ironically, the only team for which he has a losing record (60-67) is the Royals.

He’s 1-2 with a 2.90 ERA in five starts all-time against the Royals. One of 20 pitchers in major league history to defeat all 30 teams, the one victory against the Royals is tied for his fewest against any team (Milwaukee Brewers).

Greinke is building a resume worthy of strong Hall of Fame consideration. He’s 219-129 in his career. He’s led his league in ERA (twice), win percentage (twice), WHIP (twice) and strikeouts per nine innings, though he’s never led in wins or strikeouts. Consistency has been his best attribute, as he had 12 straight seasons of double-figure wins (2008-19).

He’s also known as baseball’s quirkiest player. Earlier this season, he stepped off the mound and threw a warm-up pitch — without being instructed to by the umpire or his manager or pitching coach — in the middle of an opponent’s at-bat. But when he’s on, he’s on.

In his most recent outing on Friday, he pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits in a 4-1 win against the Los Angeles Angels.

“All my pitches were pretty good, my location was pretty good,” Greinke said after the game. “They hit some balls well and we had some guys playing in those spots and that made it nice. Less stress that way.”

Singer could use some of Greinke’s creativity. He is basically a two-pitch pitcher, relying primarily on his two-seam fastball/sinker (58.3 percent) and his slider (36.3 percent). The inability to develop an effective third pitch has stunted his growth this season.

Singer has lost his past four decisions, his most recent win coming on June 1. He’s facing the Astros for the first time in his career.

–Field Level Media

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