Royals back up Meche in rout of Rangers
Righty erases rough Arlington past with scoreless effort
ARLINGTON -- Gil Meche provided another reason on Friday night why this could be a different season for the Royals.Meche, who historically struggles at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, pitched a spectacular game against a Rangers team that scored 19 runs on Wednesday against Baltimore. Meche allowed six hits in six shutout innings in a 12-3 pounding of the Rangers, slaying his own personal demons in Texas in the process. Meche entered Friday with an 8.10 ERA at Rangers Ballpark, his highest ERA in any American League venue. Meche won his first start here as a rookie a decade ago, but had lost six of his seven decisions. In fact, he had struggled against the Rangers for his career, entering Friday's action with a 4-9 record and 6.32 ERA vs. Texas. He was 0-4 in his last six starts against the Rangers, and when he last pitched in Arlington on Aug. 25, he allowed a career-high 14 hits in a 9-4 loss. "When we come to Texas, I count the days to see if I'm pitching in this park," Meche said. "I hate pitching in this ballpark against any lineup. I tried to forget about it tonight." Meche did a good job of erasing his memories on Friday, getting his first win of the year even though he said he didn't pitch as well as he did in his first two starts of this young season. Meche said he pitched a little bit differently than he usually does here, but not because of past disasters. He said he never got comfortable in the cool conditions and he didn't like the flatness of the mound. Relying on all of his pitches other than his fastball, he had six strikeouts and got eight ground-ball outs. He shook off John Buck several times when his catcher was trying to establish the fastball because Meche felt it wasn't there. He pitched his way out of his most challenging inning in the third, holding onto a 4-0 lead. With runners and second and third and one out, he got Michael Young to bounce a changeup back to the mound, and rookie Elvis Andrus was caught in a rundown between third and home. Meche then struck out Josh Hamilton with runners still at second and third to end the inning, getting the Rangers slugger to chase a curveball in the dirt. "He's a great hitter, but he's a little bit impatient, especially in RBI situations," Meche said. "He's real aggressive in those situations, so I was able to get two strikes on him and keep the ball down." Meche was able to settle in against the Rangers' stacked lineup because of what his offense did for him early in the game. The Royals jumped on Rangers starter Matt Harrison in the second, as Mark Teahen led off the inning with a home run to left. Coco Crisp later had a two-out, three-run home run for a 4-0 lead. "Anytime you get a lead like that, it helps guys settle in a little bit," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "We had a lot of consistent at-bats tonight." The Royals waited until the sixth inning to crank back up the offense, but by that time they were into the Rangers' bullpen, the worst in the Majors. Mike Aviles delivered a two-run single for a 6-0 lead off of Willie Eyre. The Royals scored three more runs in the seventh on run-scoring doubles by Mike Jacobs, Buck and Willie Bloomquist for a 9-0 lead. Kansas City had four doubles in the inning, the first time it's done that since July 29, 2007, against the Rangers. Teahen, who had the other double, had a 5-for-6 night and was a triple shy of the cycle in his first game starting at third base in place of Alex Gordon, who is out for 10-12 weeks after undergoing successful hip surgery on Friday. It was Teahen's first five-hit game of his career, and the first for the Royals since Mike Sweeney did it on July 9, 2005, against Minnesota. Teahen hit his first home run of the season to the opposite field and sprayed the ball around the ballpark all night. His single to third went to center, his double in the seventh went to left and his singles in the eighth and ninth went to right. "That's where I need to be," Teahen said. "The first one was right where I need to be." For Hillman, who is trying to live without two key bats, Gordon and Jose Guillen, it was a feel-good game, as the Royals scored their most runs of the season. "I'm leaning toward going with the same lineup," Hillman said. He might even be able to talk Meche into pitching here again.
Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.