SEATTLE | Banny and Zack and then what? Fade to black? The old Boston Braves could once yearn for two days of rain after Spahn and Sain. That works, too, even if it doesn’t rhyme.
What doesn’t work? John Bale. Not Tuesday, anyway. Nor Hideo Nomo. Nor Ron Mahay. Nor Yasuhiko Yabuta or Jimmy Gobble for that matter.
If the Royals were due for a clunker from their pitching staff, well, this 11-6 loss to the Seattle Mariners certainly qualifies. The Royals saw their cumulative ERA spike from an MLB-best 2.46 to 3.10.
Yep, it was a bad night.
It seemed even worse, of course, coming after successive complete-game gems by Brian Bannister and Zack Greinke in 5-1 victories the two previous days against the Twins and Mariners.
Bannister and Greinke are each 3-0, which means the Royals are 2-6 when someone else starts after settling for a split in their two-game series at Safeco Field.
Every Seattle starter reached safely in a 13-hit attack. Ichiro Suzuki stretched his hitting streak against the Royals to 26 games by going two for four. José Lopez drove in four runs. Yuniesky Betancourt had three RBIs, while Kenji Johjima had three hits and two RBIs. Bale, 0-3, pitched better than his numbers in losing his first two starts. Not this time. He lasted just one batter into the fourth inning and gave up five runs and seven hits.
Nomo was no better. He faced eight batters and five reached safely. Final count: four runs, three hits and two walks in one-plus inning.
Mahay yielded a two-run double to his first batter and allowed another inherited runner to score before getting charged with a run of his own. Yabuta and Gobble combined to allow Seattle’s final run in the seventh.
Only Joakim Soria escaped. He worked a one-two-three eighth in tuneup appearance. The staff meltdown was sufficient to waste the Royals’ top offensive output of the season. They had not scored more than five runs in any of their previous 13 games.
Billy Butler had a walk and a sacrifice fly in five plate appearances, but his hitting streak ended at 13 games. Tony Peña had two hits for the second straight game after starting the season at one for 31.
Seattle starter Miguel Batista, 1-2, wasn’t particularly sharp, either. He lasted the minimum five innings necessary to get the victory while giving up four runs and seven hits.
It was good enough, even after reliever Ryan Rowland-Smith gave up two runs in the sixth. Sean Green pitched two scoreless innings before Mark Lowe picked up an ineffective Arthur Rhodes in the ninth.
The Royals opened the game with singles by David DeJesus and Mark Grudzielanek and turned them into a 1-0 lead. The runners advanced on a wild pitch before Butler produced the run with a sacrifice fly to center.
The lead lasted just two hitters into the Seattle first.
Suzuki led off with a double and stole third before scoring on Lopez’s sacrifice fly to left.
Bale gave up two more runs in the second after José Vidro led off with a ground-rule double that hopped the right-field wall. Richie Sexson reached on a walk before Willie Bloomquist pushed an RBI single into right.
Betancourt made it 3-1 with a sacrifice fly to center. Three singles in the third extended the lead to 4-1 and matched the number of runs yielded by the Royals in 33 innings before Tuesday’s game.
The Royals pulled even by scoring three times in the fourth.
Butler led off with a walk and went to third on José Guillen’s double past third. The runners advanced on Alex Gordon’s ground out to first before John Buck lined an RBI single into the right-center gap.
Peña failed to execute a safety squeeze by fouling off a bunt with the infield back and then swung through a hit-and-run play that resulted in Buck being thrown out at second.
So what happens next? Peña hits a high chopper to third and beats the throw from Adrian Beltre for an RBI single. Peña stole second when Johjima threw wildly to second on a pitchout.
Maybe it was going to work out after all.
DeJesus walked, but Batista escaped further damage by retiring Grudzielanek on a grounder to second.
Bale began the fourth but made a quick exit after surrendering a leadoff single to Johjima. The bullpen had allowed just four runs in 31 previous innings this season. So it, too, was overdue for a mulligan.
Bloomquist punched a single to right against Nomo before Betancourt lined an RBI double into left-center field. Nomo struck out Suzuki but yielded a sacrifice fly to Lopez; the Mariners led 6-4.
Seattle loaded the bases against Nomo in the fifth on two walks after Beltre’s leadoff double.
Mahay replaced Nomo and yielded a two-run double to Johjima. The Mariners pushed their lead to 10-4 before Mahay retired the side.
The Royals spanked reliever Rowland-Smith for those two runs in the sixth but got no closer.