Brandon Moss hit two home runs and Lorenzo Cain drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning as the Kansas City Royals beat the Seattle Mariners 6-4 on Thursday night.
KANSAS CITY — It was a compliment to his former team about what it had become and achieved in the last three seasons. But perhaps it should have also been a warning to his teammates.
In the hours before Thursday’s opener in an important four-game series vs. the Royals, centerfielder Jarrod Dyson, who had played with the Royals his entire career, and was part of two teams that made it to the World Series, including winning it in 2015, put it clearly and perhaps prophetically about playing Kansas City:
“They’re not going to give in. They are not going to just give it to you. You are going to have to beat them in every aspect of the game. They find ways to win. You have to be on top of your game. You can’t make mistakes against those guys. They take advantage of mistakes. That’s the way they are wired.”
M’s @ Kansas City, 5:15 p.m., ROOT Sports
The Mariners weren’t on top of their game. They made mistakes later that evening in the field, on the bases, on the mound, at the plate and it cost them. In the end, Seattle didn’t do enough to beat the Royals, who had lost three straight games coming in. The Mariners wasted a 2-0 lead, gave away a 3-2 lead and eventually lost 6-4.
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“Like I said, it was going to be tough ballgame and those guys over there they don’t give up,” Dyson said postgame. “When they sniff it, they play a little harder. We made some mistakes that they cashed in on and we left a lot of runners on base. It was a tough game.”
Facing a team they are battling with for the postseason, the Mariners just didn’t play well enough to win. It started with failing to do more against Royals starter Trevor Cahill, who was anything but sharp, pitching 4 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
“We had some chances but we kind of needed that big two-out hit early in the game to take a more commanding lead,” Servais said. “It felt like the momentum was on our side and then you look up at the scoreboard and it was still 2-0 and they quickly tie it with one swing of the bat.”
Seattle’s only two runs against Cahill were on a pair of solo homers from Kyle Seager and Danny Valencia that both tucked inside the right field foul pole. There was some debate whether Valencia’s really was a homer. It was reviewed by MLB replay and stood as called on the field, but it was still debatable enough to get Royals manager Ned Yost ejected.
But in wasted opportunities, the Marinres left two runners on in the second, third and fifth inning and a runner on in the fourth. In total, they stranded nine runners, while going 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Mariners starter Yovani Gallardo cruised through the first four innings without incident, allowing just two hits and holding the Royals scoreless.
In the fifth, his outing started to unravel. He walked Mike Moustakas to start the inning and then hung a curveball to Brandon Moss. The ball hung in the zone as if to say, “hit me and hit me far,” which Moss obliged to do, hammering his 13th homer of the season into the right field seats to tie the game at 2-2.
“I made a mistake up in the zone,” Gallardo said. “Just a bad pitch.”
The Mariners retook the lead in the top of the sixth on Guillermo Heredia’s soft single up the middle that scored Valencia from third. But it was brief.
Gallardo made a mess of the bottom of the sixth, walking the first two batters he faced on nine pitches.
“I was feeling good and was getting weak contact,” Gallardo said. “In the sixth inning, I felt like there was some pretty close pitches that you make to get back in the count and they don’t go your way and it changes the whole at-bat.”
Servais went to lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski, who came in and got a quick double play. But after an intentional walk with two outs, Mike Moustakas hit a soft single up the middle to score the tying run. The Mariners were in a modified shift that had second baseman Robinson Cano playing Moustakas to pull and shortstop Jean Segura playing straight up. Rzepczynski appeared stunned and flabbergasted when the ball rolled into the outfield instead of having a fielder there.
“You know a power hitter is up so you are thinking shift is there so I was little shocked,” he said. “But obviously (the coaching staff) has their reasons why they are there. I was kind of more frustrated that he’s hit me well. He’s got seven singles off me and he places it where guys aren’t. With that big of an inning. I was just a little frustrated cause I got my ground ball and it just happened to find a hole. It was more frustration that it snuck through.”
With a tie game going into the bottom of the seventh and No. 8 hitter Alcides Escobar (.230 batting average) and No. 9 hitter Alex Gordon (.202 batting average) coming to the plate, Servais went to rookie Emilio Pagan. It was a small jump in responsibility for Pagan, who had been mostly a long reliever. It was a tough debut to the new role. He gave up leadoff single from Escobar while a sac bunt from Gordon put the go-ahead run in scoring position. Pagan appeared to have gotten the important second out when Kyle Seager made a brilliant barehanded pick up and throw to first on Whit Merrifield’s slow roller. But Valencia inexplicably just dropped the sure out. Instead of two outs, the inning changed completely. Lorenzo Cain looped a soft single on a 1-2 count into right field to make it 4-3 and Melky Cabrera followed with a RBI single to make it 5-3.
“I got in a good spot against Cain to where if I can execute a pitch, I can put him away,” Pagan said. “I just didn’t make very good pitches with my fastball. I left it a little too low. Going up is my bread and butter and I didn’t get it up.”
Moss hit his second homer of the game in the eighth, a solo blast off of Pagan to make it 6-3.
Seattle picked up a run in the top of the ninth, but it only made the score look a little closer than the game actually was for much of the night.
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