Well, friends, this is what you get with José Guillen. Someone who stirs the pot. And someone who drives in runs. So you decide.
Guillen marked his return to the lineup Wednesday with a two-run single that lifted the Royals to a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Kauffman Stadium.
“Very good hit,” Guillen said simply. “Right man in the right time. I’m happy to get a win. It was a great game. We’ve been playing great, and I’m happy with the way things are going.”
Overall, who isn’t? The Royals have won six in a row. But Guillen personally? That remains a paradox.
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Guillen missed Tuesday’s game because of an unspecified illness and/or a minor infraction of club rules. Messages on that were mixed earlier Wednesday from the Royals.
Anyway, here he was Wednesday night, back in the lineup, and his two-out single in the seventh inning up the middle slipped past shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt and broke a 2-2 tie.
It also extended Guillen’s hitting streak to a career-high 14 games and boosted his RBI count to 95.
So there you go.
“He’s had some big at-bats,” manager Trey Hillman agreed. “That was a huge at-bat, just out of the reach of Yuniesky (Betancourt). Obviously, he had enough on it, squared it up, and had a big base hit.”
The three-run seventh against relievers Roy Corcoran and Miguel Batista came after the Royals did next to nothing in the first six innings against Mariners starter Ryan Rowland-Smith.
Just one run and three hits — the one run came on a homer by Ryan Shealy in the fourth inning. It was Shealy’s fifth homer in five games, and the sixth overall since his Sept. 2 recall from Class AAA Omaha.
Shealy’s said he’s never enjoyed such a power surge, even in the minors.
“Not like this,” he said. “This is different for me, but I’m enjoying it. It definitely makes it fun to come to the park each day. That’s for sure.”
Even so, Rowland-Smith handed a 2-1 lead to the bullpen in the seventh.
The Royals pulled even against Corcoran, 5-2, before Batista entered to face Guillen with runners at second and third. The count went to 1-1 before Guillen pumped a single up the middle past Betancourt’s diving effort.
“I hit the ball good enough,” Guillen said. “If I hit it a little softer, maybe he has a chance to get there. The way it came off my bat, I thought it had a good chance (to get through).”
The comeback enabled Gil Meche to improve to 12-11 on a night when he didn’t have his best stuff. Meche recovered from a two-run first by blanking the Mariners through the next six innings.
“For the most part,” he said, “I didn’t feel I had good stuff at all, and I got through seven innings. We had the big bottom of the seventh — three-run spot and a 4-2 lead. Pretty good.”
Ichiro Suzuki had three of Seattle’s eight hits, which matched the Major League record of eighth consecutive 200-hit seasons. Wee Willie Keeler did it from 1894-1901.
“I saw a lot of the (type of) hits he got tonight, too,” said Meche, who played with Suzuki for six seasons. “Obviously, he’s got some of the best speed. He runs out of the box when he’s swinging.
“I’ve seen so many bloops to left. So many infield singles, just beating out guys trying to throw him out Coming over here from Japan, and doing what he’s done is remarkable. You don’t see many guys like him around.”
The Royals go for a four-game sweep this afternoon in the series finale — something they last achieved Sept. 19-21, 2005 against the Tigers at the Kauffman.
The six-game winning streak matches a season high. The Royals won six in a row from June 21-27 against the Giants (two), Rockies (three) and Cardinals (one).
The Royals also improved to 68-84 by moving to 11-5 in September.
Ron Mahay inherited a 4-2 lead to start the eighth and allowed two singles to the first three hitters. Ramon Ramirez replaced Mahay and induced an inning-ending double play from José Lopez.
Joakim Soria pitched the ninth for his 40th save. That makes 16 saves in his last 17 opportunities for the Mexicutioner, including the first three games against the Mariners.
“It’s pretty nice (to reach 40),” Soria said, “but I never set goals. I just try to do my best every time I come on the mound. If I get good results, then thank God.”
The same goes for Guillen, doesn’t it? This night all went well.] “I’m just happy I got a good pitch to hit,” he said, “and could contribute to helping this team to win. It was a good at-bat.”