Kansas City Royals

Royals beat the Mariners 4-1, snap five-game losing streak

Omar Infante got the Royals on the board in the second inning with an RBI single that scored Alex Gordon. The Royals went on to beat the Mariners 4-1 on Sunday in Seattle, snapping a five-game losing streak.
Omar Infante got the Royals on the board in the second inning with an RBI single that scored Alex Gordon. The Royals went on to beat the Mariners 4-1 on Sunday in Seattle, snapping a five-game losing streak. The Associated Press

The bullpen door swung open and into the maw jogged Danny Duffy, a left-handed reliever tasked with delivering the Royals from a five-game purgatory.

As Duffy reached the mound on Sunday afternoon, the Seattle Mariners had loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the sixth. The Royals led by just three runs in the final game of a three-game set. Reliever Luke Hochevar, the resident fireman in the Kansas City bullpen, sat unavailable with a bout of elbow tightness. Inside Safeco Field, a home crowd of 37,053 sensed the opportunity at hand.

On another day, in another moment, perhaps Duffy would have been rattled by the scene, unnerved by the challenge. For years, his left arm has possessed electricity; for years, his mind has sometimes wandered.

But as pinch hitter Dae-Ho Lee stepped to the plate, Duffy appeared unmoved. He dug his left foot into the dirt. He gassed his fastball up to 98 mph. He struck out Lee on four pitches, before fanning third baseman Kyle Seager on an 0-2 breaking ball.

The fastball, Duffy said, was coming out smooth.

“It was just jumping,” Dufffy said. “It was good.”

The inning ended moments later. Seattle’s Chris Iannetta hit a sharp single to right field. Jarrod Dyson charged hard and cut down Robinson Cano at home plate, unleashing a near perfect throw from right field, limiting the damage to just one run.

In the Royals’ 4-1 victory at Safeco Field — a win that stopped a five-game losing streak and salvaged the final game of a six-game road trip — Duffy’s sixth-inning stand proved crucial. He threw a lifeline to Royals starter Ian Kennedy, who had thrown five scoreless innings before loading the bases in the sixth. He offered a vital lift to his team, which improved to 13-11 before boarding a flight home to Kansas City on Sunday night.

“Huge,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.

“To win that last one, going back home,” Dyson said, “that’s motivation to us.”

A year ago, the Royals stood at 16-8 after 24 games, in first place and cruising after a torrid start. After a 1-5 road trip over the last week, they fell slightly behind the 2015 pace. But after a week of frustrating nights, a week of anemic offense and inconsistent starting pitching, they could breathe deep and relax before opening a three-game series against the Washington Nationals on Monday at Kauffman Stadium.

For the first time in days, the Royals’ offense emerged from its slumber. Lorenzo Cain was 2 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored, raising his average to .230. Eric Hosmer cranked a solo homer in the eighth, a 393-foot shot that represented his fourth blast of the year. The Royals shook off a 27-inning scoreless drought and a woeful stretch of hitting with runners in scoring position. They accomplished both against Seattle starter Taijuan Walker, a velocity-infused right-hander who entered with a 1.44 ERA.

“We got some big hits,” Hosmer said. “That was one of the key things we were missing … a couple hits with guys in scoring position. It’s good to cash in on those today.”

The day also required a sturdy performance from a Royals starting pitcher after a Yordano Ventura blowup on Saturday night. Kennedy brought the goods, allowing just one run in 5-plus innings and recording six strikeouts in a bounce-back effort. Six days earlier, he had been tagged with five earned runs in a 6-1 loss at Anaheim, his worst outing of this young season. On Sunday, he lowered his ERA to 2.61 in five starts.

“He really stepped up,” Hosmer said.

Kennedy held the Mariners scoreless for five innings despite fighting an inner battle with his offspeed pitches. His curveball was erratic, he said. His slider and changeups were inconsistent. His only true weapon: A four-seam fastball that spent much of the day on the corners and getting swings and misses up in the zone.

Kennedy said his limited arsenal led to long at-bats. He needed 86 pitches to get through the fifth. His pitch count hit 104 after he walked Nelson Cruz to load the bases in the bottom of the sixth.

“It’s one of those days where it’s like: ‘I’ll just try to get by with the one pitch I had,’” Kennedy said.

Moments later, Yost emerged from the dugout and summoned Duffy. The bullpen morphed into shutdown mode for the rest of the day.

Duffy notched his fifth straight scoreless outing. Joakim Soria culled together a scoreless seventh while working around two base runners. Kelvin Herrera recorded his 13th straight scoreless appearance in the eighth. A brief aside: After Sunday’s outing, Herrera has now thrown 12 1/3 scoreless innings this season. He struck out his 17th batter to end the inning. He passed the baton to closer Wade Davis, who recorded his eighth save in the ninth.

“It’s been a rough road trip,” Yost said. “And any time you can kind of have the lead after six and get to our bullpen like we did, we had a lot of confidence we were going to win that game.”

The Royals, of course, had been shut out in the first two games of the series. On Sunday, they busted out of two skids in the top of the second. With two outs, second baseman Omar Infante dropped a bloop single into right-center, scoring Alex Gordon from third base. It was the Royals’ first run after 27 scoreless inning, dating back toWednesday’s loss in Anaheim. It also snapped an 0-for-23 skid with runners in scoring position, a stretch that lingered since the fourth inning on Tuesday night.

Cain stretched the lead to 2-0 in the top of the third, depositing a 3-1 fastball into center field for an RBI single. The base hit scored Alcides Escobar, who had opened the inning with a double to right off Walker. The moment offered the latest sign that Cain is coming out of a prolonged slump. Perhaps the Royals offense will follow.

Two innings later, Cain added another single to right-center. He stole second with two outs and scored on a throwing error from Seattle shortstop Ketel Marte, who was trying to throw out Hosmer on a slow grounder.

When Cain crossed the plate, the lead was 3-0. After a week of regression, of floating back toward .500, the Royals could revert to their formula: Four runs. A shutdown bullpen. A timely victory on a Sunday afternoon in Seattle.

“It’s been a while,” Duffy said, “since we won one.”

Rustin Dodd: @rustindodd

Kansas City AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

A.Escobar ss

5

1

3

0

0

0

.233

Moustakas 3b

5

0

0

0

0

2

.258

L.Cain cf

5

1

2

1

0

2

.230

Hosmer 1b

4

1

2

1

0

1

.333

K.Morales dh

4

0

0

0

0

1

.216

A.Gordon lf

3

1

1

0

0

2

.213

S.Perez c

4

0

2

0

0

1

.253

Infante 2b

4

0

1

1

0

2

.270

J.Dyson rf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.278

Totals 37

4

11

3

0

12

Seattle AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

K.Marte ss

4

0

1

0

1

0

.277

S.Smith lf

3

1

2

0

1

0

.317

Nuno p

0

0

0

0

0

0

---

Montgomery p

0

0

0

0

0

0

---

Clevenger ph

1

0

0

0

0

0

.143

Cano dh-2b

4

0

2

0

0

0

.237

Cruz rf

3

0

0

0

1

1

.253

Lind 1b

2

0

0

0

0

1

.227

D.Lee ph-1b

2

0

0

0

0

1

.259

K.Seager 3b

4

0

1

0

0

1

.163

Iannetta c

4

0

1

1

0

3

.237

L.Martin cf

4

0

0

0

0

3

.176

Sardinas 2b

1

0

0

0

0

0

.182

Aoki ph-lf

2

0

1

0

0

0

.212

Totals 34

1

8

1

3

10

Kansas City

011

010

010

4

11

0

Seattle

000

001

000

1

8

1

E—K.Marte (4). LOB—Kansas City 8, Seattle 10. 2B—A.Escobar (2), K.Seager (4). HR—Hosmer (4), off Nuno. RBIs—L.Cain (9), Hosmer (9), Infante (4), Iannetta (6). SB—L.Cain (3), A.Gordon (2). CS—A.Escobar (1).

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Kennedy W, 3-2

5

4

1

1

2

6

2.61

D.Duffy H, 1

1

1

0

0

0

2

3.75

Soria H, 4

1

1

0

0

1

0

5.25

K.Herrera H, 6

1

1

0

0

0

1

0.00

W.Davis S, 8-8

1

1

0

0

0

1

0.00

Seattle

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

T.Walker L, 2-1

5

7

3

2

0

4

1.80

Zych

1

0

0

0

0

3

3.00

Jo.Peralta

1

1

0

0

0

2

2.70

Nuno

1

2

1

1

0

2

2.25

Montgomery

1

1

0

0

0

1

3.09

Kennedy pitched to 3 batters in the 6th. Inherited runners-scored—D.Duffy 3-1. HBP—by Kennedy (Sardinas), by Montgomery (J.Dyson), by T.Walker (A.Gordon). Balk—Soria. T—3:14. A—37,053 (47,943).

Late Saturday

Mariners 6, Royals 0

Kansas City AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

A.Escobar ss

4

0

0

0

0

0

.214

Moustakas 3b

4

0

2

0

0

0

.273

L.Cain cf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.220

Hosmer 1b

4

0

0

0

0

0

.326

K.Morales dh

4

0

1

0

0

1

.226

A.Gordon lf

2

0

0

0

0

1

.208

S.Perez c

3

0

0

0

0

0

.240

Infante 2b

3

0

1

0

0

1

.271

Orlando rf

3

0

0

0

0

0

.267

Totals 31

0

5

0

0

4

Seattle AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Aoki lf

3

1

1

0

2

0

.205

S.Smith rf

5

1

2

1

0

1

.298

Cano 2b

4

0

0

0

1

2

.226

Cruz dh

0

1

0

1

2

0

.262

Lind 1b

3

1

0

0

1

0

.234

K.Seager 3b

3

2

2

3

1

0

.159

Iannetta c

4

0

1

0

0

1

.236

K.Marte ss

3

0

1

0

0

1

.278

L.Martin cf

3

0

0

1

1

1

.186

Totals 28

6

7

6

8

6

Kansas City

000

000

000

0

5

0

Seattle

400

101

00x

6

7

0

LOB—Kansas City 5, Seattle 9. 2B—Moustakas (6). HR—S.Smith (4), off Ventura; K.Seager (5), off Ventura. RBIs—S.Smith (10), Cruz (14), K.Seager 3 (13), L.Martin (10). CS—K.Marte (1). S—K.Marte. DP—Kansas City 2, Seattle 1.

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Ventura L, 2-1

4

3

5

5

6

1

3.67

Gee

3

3

1

1

2

3

1.46

W.Davis

1

1

0

0

0

2

0.00

Seattle

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Miley W, 2-2

9

5

0

0

0

4

5.06

Ventura pitched to 1 batter in the 5th. Inherited runners-scored—Gee 1-0. HBP—by Gee (Cruz), by Ventura (Cruz), by Miley (A.Gordon). T—2:28. A—43,444 (47,943).

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