ST. LOUIS (AP) — Taking a day off isn’t high on a list of favorite things for Paul Goldschmidt, but the St. Louis first baseman knows it can help.
Goldschmidt hit an early home run and Steven Matz and the Cardinals bullpen made it stand up Monday in a 1-0 win over the Kansas City Royals.
Goldschmidt, who got his first day off of the season Sunday, connected with one out in the first inning against Zack Greinke.
“It’s nice to relax and come in fresh today,” Goldschmidt said. “It’s a long-term benefit. We’re in the middle of 20 in a row and 30 of 31, so it was a great time for it.”
“Off days are important but as a competitor, you want to keep going. Earlier in my career, I’d fight the manager more. It’s a long season. I want to stay fresh and play well,” he said.
It was the 71st career homer in the first inning for Goldschmidt and that ranks third among active players. Teammate Albert Pujols is first with 154.
“It was a bad pitch to him,” Greinke said.
The Royals lost their fourth in a row overall, and have dropped 21 of their last 28 to St. Louis dating to Aug. 7, 2017. This game was a makeup from a rainout on April 13 — the I-70 interleague series continues Tuesday and Wednesday in Kansas City.
It was the third time the Royals have been shut out this season and it was their second 1-0 loss.
“It’s a shame to lose such a great start and not give him any support,” Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said. ”Really it was just one pitch. We say that a lot but he executed pitches all day long. One slider didn’t do what he wanted it to do. It’s not often one pitch beats you but he did it to the wrong hitter.”
Matz (3-1) scattered four hits, including a pair of doubles, in six innings. He walked none, hit a batter and struck out four.
Matz had allowed five runs over his previous three starts, spanning 14 2/3 innings, after yielding seven in his Cardinals debut on April 10.
“I felt really good,” Matz said. “I didn’t labor out there. I stayed with my stuff and kept my rhythm.”
St. Louis relievers Kodi Whitley, Nick Wittgren and Giovanny Gallegos were equally sharp, each pitching an inning in the combined five-hitter. Gallegos gave up a two-out single in the ninth but picked up his fifth save in six chances.
It was the fourth shutout this season for the Cardinals.
Greinke (0-2) gave up three hits in six innings. The 18-year veteran made the 493rd start of his career and didn’t walk anyone with one strikeout.
“My last starts have been my best,” Greinke said. “I hope to get a little bit crisper.”
Carlos Santana had two of the Royals’ five hits. The Cardinals managed just four hits.
Of the 18 players who got an at-bat in his game, half of them — nine — now have a batting average of .196 or lower this season.
Major League Baseball hitters finished April with a paltry .231 batting average, on pace to fall below the record low of .237 in 1968 when Cardinals great Bob Gibson and other pitchers dominated.
Royals CF Michael Taylor robbed Andrew Knizer of a home run in the fifth when he caught the ball over the wall in right center and pulled it back in, drawing applause from the crowd. “That’s one of the best catches I’ve ever seen,” Matheny said. … In the sixth, Gold Glove LF Tyler O’Neill dove and snagged a line drive by the Royals’ Whit Merrifield just before it hit the grass.
Royals: RHP Matt Peacock and INF Emmanuel Rivera were optioned to Triple-A Omaha. C MJ Melendez has been recalled from Omaha. Melendez led the minors with 41 home runs last season.
Cardinals: LHP Packy Naughton was optioned to the Triple-A Memphis. The rookie appeared in one game following his recall on April 22. RHP Aaron Brooks was designated for assignment. He appeared in five games, totaling 9 1/3 innings in relief.
Royals: C Cam Gallagher (left hamstring strain) placed on 10-day IL. Gallagher got hurt as ran out a single in the third inning in Sunday’s game against the Yankees. The Royals had to pinch-run for him. An MRI showed a Grade 2 hamstring strain. He will be out for an undetermined amount of time.
Cardinals: INF Tommy Edman (aggravated hip flexor) didn’t play. He left Sunday’s game against Arizona in the seventh inning. He said after the game Sunday that neither he nor the St. Louis medical staff believe the injury is serious. … RHP Drew VerHagen (right hip) is scheduled to have a rehab assignment Tuesday in Triple-A Memphis.
Royals: RHP Brad Keller (0-2, 2.19) did not factor into the decision of Kansas City’s 5-2 win in 10 innings last Thursday in Chicago, in which he allowed one run on three hits and no walks in seven innings. He has lost four straight starts to the Cardinals.
Cardinals: Dakota Hudson (2-1, 2.75) earned his second straight win in as many starts. In his last outing against Arizona, he carried a no-hit bid into the sixth inning. … The Cardinals have won all four games Hudson has appeared in his career against Kansas City.
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