Rangers, Royals call on stingy starters

Rangers, Royals call on stingy starters

ARLINGTON -- This is just not something that happens at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, even if it's only April and even if this is only the third time around in each team's rotation.

On Saturday night, the top two pitchers in the American League in ERA will face each other when Kevin Millwood pitches for the Rangers against Zack Greinke for the Royals.

Greinke has won his first two starts without giving up a run, while Millwood has allowed just one in his first 14 innings. They are 1-2 in the AL in ERA.

"I know he's pitched well and I've pitched well," Millwood said. "If we keep doing what we're doing, it should be a fun game."

They matched up last year on Aug. 26 in Kansas City, and Millwood came away with a complete-game 2-1 victory.

Millwood beat the Indians, 9-1, on Opening Day and left his last start against the Tigers with a 4-0 lead in the seventh inning. The Rangers ended up losing that game when the bullpen gave up six runs in the eighth inning. But after two games, Millwood has allowed just nine hits and one walk while striking out 11.

"Aside from feeling all the work has paid off, it is what it is," Millwood said. "I'm not going to make too much about it but I do feel good about it."

Greinke pitched six innings in a 2-0 victory over the White Sox in his first start and five in a 4-2 victory over the Indians in his last outing. He has allowed 11 hits and five walks in 11 innings while striking out 16. He has tossed 25 consecutive scoreless innings going back to last season.

"That's what Kansas City envisioned him being," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's definitely one of the quality pitchers in the league. The opposing pitcher has to stay close because if he gets a lead, he usually doesn't give it back."

Pitching matchup
TEX: RHP Kevin Millwood (1-0, 0.64 ERA)
Millwood has allowed one run in 14 innings. He has also allowed just nine hits, and all of them have been singles. He left with a 4-0 lead after seven innings on Sunday against the Tigers, only to watch as the bullpen give up six runs in the eighth. Millwood was 2-0 with a 4.64 ERA in three starts against the Royals last year and is 6-3 with a 4.66 ERA against them in his career.

KC: RHP Zack Greinke (2-0, 0.00 ERA)
The Royals' 25-year-old ace has shown why the club rewarded him with a four-year, $38 million contract extension in the offseason. Greinke has yet to allow a run this season in two starts (11 innings), and he's fanned 16 batters, including nine in a victory against Cleveland his last time out. The high strikeout total might have hurt Greinke's efficiency -- he was limited to just five innings after piling up 104 pitches, but it's hard to argue with the results. Dating back to last season, Greinke has gone 25 consecutive innings without surrendering a run.

Ian Kinsler has donated a bat from Wednesday's game to the Hall of Fame. Kinsler hit for the cycle and had six hits. ... Washington has been going with Marlon Byrd over David Murphy in left field, saying, "Right now, we're just trying to get on a roll and ride the hot hand that's carrying us." ... Jarrod Saltalamacchia has just two hits in his last 26 at-bats with 12 strikeouts.

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Up next
• Sunday: Rangers (Vicente Padilla, 1-1, 10.00) vs. Royals (Kyle Davies, 1-0, 2.13), 2:05 p.m. CT
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Rangers (Brandon McCarthy, 1-0, 4.91) at Blue Jays (Scott Richmond, 1-0, 3.48), 6:07 p.m. CT

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.