KANSAS CITY, Mo. — What … was … that?

The Mariners ended their most befuddling and harrowing road trip of the season with their most haunting and inexplicable loss in years Sunday afternoon, blowing a nine-run lead in a 13-12 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

There is so much to unpack here. And it’s probably a waste of energy to even attempt to detail all that went wrong.

The bottom line is this: The Mariners (83-69) face-planted in such stunning fashion that it’s only natural to wonder whether this patchwork team — with all its injuries, all its flaws and all the angst it has created — is still capable of sneaking into the postseason.

“You can’t let a game like today define our season,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “And it won’t. We will not let that happen.”

Servais had a closed-door meeting with the team in the visitors’ clubhouse after the game.

“We’ve got to get back to playing baseball the way we have all year that’s allowed us to be in this position,” Servais said he told the team. “We do have a good opportunity to make the playoffs, and the 10 games will define where we’re at. But we need to get back to playing good baseball.”


It has been such a magical season for this team, on the precipice of its first playoff berth in 21 years. And then — poof! — the Mariners gave one away Sunday.

Leading 11-2, the Mariners surrendered 11 runs in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Royals took a 13-11 lead.

The 11 runs tied the Mariners’ franchise record for most allowed in one inning. The last time it happened was May 28, 2000, in Tampa Bay.

“We just have to take it on the chin … regroup and finish strong,” shortstop J.P. Crawford said. “You just have to flush it out. As much as it’s going to haunt us, the reality that we just lost, you’ve got to just forget about it and try to [realize] we have bigger games ahead of us. We can’t dwell on this game. There’s nothing we can do about it now.”

The only saving grace for the Mariners is the Orioles lost again at home to Houston, keeping the Mariners four games ahead of Baltimore for the final playoff spot. The Mariners also hold the tiebreaker over the Orioles.

The injuries continued to mount for the Mariners on Sunday.

Jesse Winker had to leave the game in the fifth inning after being hit on the left wrist.


Catcher Cal Raleigh, the hero of Saturday’s comeback victory, had to leave the game in the seventh inning.

Raleigh has been playing through an injury on his left thumb, and he was in clear pain after catching a pitch from Matt Brash during the decisive sixth inning. Raleigh finished the inning, but Luis Torrens pinch-hit for him the next inning.

The Mariners have already been without their two best sluggers, Julio Rodriguez (back strain) and Eugenio Suarez (finger).

Mariners ace Luis Castillo, pitching a day after the announcement of his new five-year, $108 million contract extension, was solid through five innings against the Royals.

But Castillo couldn’t get out of the sixth. He surrendered a walk to Edward Olivares and then a two-run homer to Michael Massey, cutting the Mariners’ lead to 11-4.

No panic, right?

After Castillo issued another walk, he was pulled in favor of Matt Festa.


Festa allowed a walk, a hit and two runs.

Still no panic, right?

With two outs, Brash was called on to relieve Festa.

Brash had not allowed a run in his last 16 appearances dating back to Aug. 14 — he’s been one of the bright spots in the Mariners’ dominant bullpen — but he allowed four runs (all earned) Sunday without recording an out.

Brash gave up a double to Bobby Witt Jr. on a ball deep into the right-center gap that the Mariners’ Jarred Kelenic lost in the sun — an issue for both teams throughout the afternoon.

Brash then issued back-to-back walks to Salvador Perez and Vinnie Pasquantino. Olivares followed with a hard-hit ground ball that ate up Ty France at third base — it was ruled a single.

Erik Swanson, one of the steadiest arms on the Mariners staff all season, allowed a two-run single to Massey to cut the Mariners’ lead to 11-10.

Ryan O’Hearn then delivered the final blow, doubling down the line to right field to drive in two runs and give the Royals a 13-11 lead.

Stunning, indeed.

“All of a sudden, the momentum started to shift and they found some holes, a ball in the sun — then you look up and now the momentum gets going and it’s really hard to stop it when the ball gets rolling downhill like that,” Servais said. “Disappointing loss, no question about it.”


The teams combined to reach base 44 times, and the game featured only one home run. The Mariners had 12 hits, walked eight times and had three batters hit by pitches, and they sent 13 batters to the plate in the top of the fifth inning, scoring eight runs to take a 9-2 lead.

Crawford added a two-out, two-run single in the sixth inning to make it 11-2.

Castillo had his second straight subpar start, allowing five runs on seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts.

“These things happen. It’s baseball,” Castillo said through interpreter Freddy Llanos. “I feel good physically. … The thing is, it was a long [fifth] inning and I was on the bench, and it’s something that affected me.”

The Mariners finished this 10-day, 10-game road trip with a 3-7 record, and they head home with plenty of questions. They’re off Monday before starting a stretch of 10 games in nine days to close out the regular season.

“This was a rough trip for us, physically more than mentally,” Servais said. “This team needs an off-day. We need to come back and get back to playing like we play — clean baseball, controlling the strike zone and doing the little things that allow you to close out games. And we’re very capable of doing it.”