The finale they wanted for most of the sun-drenched Sunday afternoon came to fruition about 90 minutes later than they expected as a layer of dark clouds rolled over T-Mobile Park, removing the brightness and more than a few fans fatigued from the day.

But for the large portion of the 28,548 fans remaining and standing often in anticipation of victory, their patience was rewarded in the bottom of the 12th inning when Jesse Winker finally ended the marathon he helped prolong in the 10th inning.

The left-handed hitting outfielder, who has watched too many line drives get snagged and deep blasts caught at the wall, dumped a broken-bat single into right field, scoring Adam Frazier from second base to give the Mariners a 5-4 walkoff win over the Royals.

The victory gave the Mariners a three-game series sweep over Kansas City and a 7-2 record for the first homestand of the season. Seattle is now 10-6 and in first place in the American League West and tied with the Yankees and Blue Jays for the best record in the American League.

Perhaps it’s too early in the season to be checking standings, but in a season where winning is expected, the successful results can’t be ignored. After a win that took four-plus hours late into Saturday evening, the Mariners didn’t let up in another four-hour affair with a cross-country flight awaiting them.

“We’re here to win,” Winker said. “I don’t care what time the game is starting at. I don’t care how long it’s taking. If we’re in it, we’re going to do our best to win it. There was a lot of huge moments in that game. The win happens because of those moments. Right? Yes, it’s only one win, but it’s one that I think we’re gonna be able to look back on and be like that was some good baseball we played.”


Winker embodied that mindset in his final two plate appearances of the game. With the Mariners on the verge of losing in the 10th inning after Diego Castillo gave up a run in the top of the inning, Ty France singled to center — his third hit of the game — to move Frazier, who started the inning on second base per the MLB extra-inning rule, to third base. Winker battled right-hander Josh Staumont for 10 pitches, fouling off four pitches with two strikes, before hitting a fly ball to center deep enough for Frazier to tag up and score.

Winker’s game-winning hit also ended on the 11th pitch of the at-bat against Joel Payamps where he fouled off three pitches with two strikes. He watched the Royals walk France before he stepped into the batter’s box to start the inning to bring him to the plate.

“I want to be the one hitting, I don’t want to give it away,” he said of the at-bat. “I don’t want to give it up. I don’t want to give the pitcher anything. These guys are good. They’re talented. And I feel like I’ve been putting some good swings on balls and kind of hitting balls right at guys. Those last two at-bats I just I was like, ‘I want to drive this run in.’ I didn’t want to get out. And today, it went in my favor.”

The Mariners jumped out to a 2-0 lead two batters into the game.

Leadoff hitter Frazier greeted Kansas City starter Carlos Hernandez with a crisp single up the middle. It brought to the plate first baseman France, who less than 12 hours earlier punctuated a 5-for-6 night with a three-run homer.

On the second pitch he saw from Hernandez, a slider that stayed on the inside half of the plate, France made it hits in six straight plate appearances and homers in back-to-back plate appearances, sending a screaming line drive that stayed just inside the left-field foul pole over the wall for a two-run blast. It was France’s team-high fifth homer of the season, and his 19 runs batted in are the second most in Major League Baseball.


The Mariners got a solid start from left-hander Robbie Ray, who pitched six innings, allowing two runs on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts. He threw 94 pitches with 56 strikes. He is the only pitcher to work at least six innings in four-plus starts this season.

Ray couldn’t quite make the two-run lead stand. The Royals got to him in the third inning. He issued a leadoff walk to No. 8 hitter Michael A. Taylor and gave up a double off the wall in left-center to Cam Gallagher. With the ball bouncing away from Winker, Taylor was able to score from first with ease. Later with two outs, Mariners nemesis Salvador Perez tied the game with a double into the left-field corner.

The Mariners put Ray back in line for the win in the bottom of the sixth. Eugenio Suarez bounced a ground-rule double over the wall in left and scored when J.P. Crawford’s line drive to left-center rolled all the way to the wall.

The Mariners middle relievers made the one-run lead hold up. Matt Festa worked a scoreless seventh inning despite a leadoff walk, and Erik Swanson had a 1-2-3 eighth inning that featured a swinging strikeout of Perez.

Given a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth, right-hander Drew Steckenrider couldn’t close out the win. He left a 93-mph fastball over the middle of the plate. The mistake wasn’t missed by Hunter Dozier, who hammered it over the wall in center field for a game-tying solo homer. The Mariners couldn’t muster a run in the bottom of the ninth and ventured into extra innings for the first time this season.