KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There were a few more offensive positives for the Mariners in this latest loss than they’d seen since prior to last weekend.
They finally hit another home run on Tuesday night, then pulled off a hit-and-run to position themselves to overcome a three-run deficit. But the Mariners ultimately fell, 4-3, to the Kansas City Royals largely because of the same things that had plagued them all holiday weekend when they weren’t going deep or playing situational baseball.
The Mariners still went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position, squandering too many chances before the Royals finally pulled it out late.
“I think the key is to keep getting guys on base,” said Kyle Seager, whose two-run homer in the sixth helped put Seattle back in the game. “You keep getting guys on base, you’re eventually going to get some hits. You get pitched a little bit differently, maybe, with guys in scoring position but it’s still baseball. If we keep getting guys in scoring position we’ll break through and maybe score some runs.”
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Seager’s blast helped cut into an early 3-0 deficit caused mainly by home runs by Alex Gordon in the first and Salvador Perez in the fourth, both off starter Erasmo Ramirez. But after the Mariners tied it in the seventh, Perez put the Royals ahead to stay in the eighth with a two-out single off Yoervis Medina.
This game, played in front of 13,638 at Kauffman Stadium, went a bit differently for the Mariners than their three contests that preceded it. For one thing, Seager’s homer off Royals starter Bruce Chen was their first since a game in Houston last Friday night.
Since that game, the Mariners had managed two extra-base hits in a 33-inning span prior to Seager’s blast. The plethora of singles that had come during those frames meant the Mariners had scored just once in 35 innings before the homer.
And then, in the seventh, some rare situational baseball by the Mariners saw Abraham Almonte bunt for a single, then take third on a hit-and-run in which pinch-hitter Kendrys Morales lined a ball into right field.
Brad Miller then grounded out to the right side to bring home the run that tied the game. But with a runner still on second, the Mariners could not get the go-ahead run in and then September call-up Almonte made a costly mistake in the eighth by diving for a ball he had no chance at catching in center.
Instead of a single, the play became a double for Mike Moutakas. Perez followed with a run-scoring single to left field and the Mariners went on to lose their third straight and ninth in 12 contests.
The Mariners wound up outhitting the Royals 10-9 on the night. But they failed to score with runners at the corners and none out in the second and with runners on second and third with one out in the eighth.
“I’d still like us to take better advantage of opportunities,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
The Royals brought in hard-throwing Luke Hochevar to face rookie Mike Zunino with two on in the eighth. Zunino looked overpowered by his sinkers in striking out.
Endy Chavez then flied out to end the inning.
“Those are the types of situations with these young kids that they’ve got to get comfortable being in,” Wedge said. “We’ve got some great, young competitors here, who just struggle in those types of situations. You have to take advantage of them, whether they be early in an inning with a couple of runners on and nobody out or late in the inning and trying to get that two-out knock.”
Ramirez had stayed competitive, shaking off the early homers and working through 61
3 innings before leaving with the score tied.
“They got good swings, hit the ball hard and they went over the fence,’’ Ramirez said with a shrug. “What can I do? Just continue pitching and that’s what I did.”
As did the Mariners’ hitters against Royals pitching most of the night: both during the six innings tossed by Chen and the remaining three by his bullpen.
But as has so often been the case this year, the Mariners could not finish the job.
“We got some hits tonight, but it’s just kind of the same thing,’’ Seager said. “They were able to make some good pitches and get out of a couple of jams.”
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @gbakermariners