Notes and quotes from the Mariners' Cactus League victory over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday in Peoria, Ariz.
Mariners 7, Royals 5, at Peoria Stadium
Notable: It wasn’t quite the Royals team that won the American League pennant the past two years and beat the Mets in the World Series, but the Mariners scored three in the eighth to pull out the victory. Most of Kansas City’s regulars stayed home in Surprise, Ariz., for a split-squad game against the Brewers. The most notable players to make the trip to Peoria were Lorenzo Cain, Kendrys Morales and Alcides Escobar.
Starter Taijuan Walker excelled for the Mariners, working three innings and striking out five. Walker gave up three hits, including a solo home run to Drew Butera in the third, but he was sharp with all his pitches and worked ahead all game. He threw pitches, including 29 strikes, and didn’t walk any.
The Mariners’ offense was stymied early, limited to two singles through the first five innings, one of them an RBI single by Kyle Seager. But in the sixth, Stefen Romero delivered a big two-out double on a full count to drive in the go-ahead run at the time. Romero drove a ball to the track for a long out his next time up and is 6 for 11 this spring.
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“He’s off to a good start this spring,’’ Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We’re going to keep giving him plenty of at-bats and probably move him some to first base in a little bit to see how that works out after he had that unfortunate incident early in camp.”
Servais was referring to Romero’s first game at first base March 3, when he was hit on the leg by a hard line drive and bruised his knee.
Ed Lucas had two hits for the Mariners, including at RBI single in the sixth and an RBI double in the eighth. Dae-Ho Lee also drove in a run with a single in the eighth.
Player of the game: In his second start of the spring, Walker felt he was much sharper, limiting the Royals to one run in three innings.
“Today, I felt a lot better, ‘’ he said. “I established my fastball early, got ahead early, and I was able to work on my breaking ball like I wanted to. That was the game plan, get ahead early with the fastball and then start throwing a lot of curveballs.”
Walker said his changeup was his strikeout pitch. On the long homer to center field he gave up to Butera, Walker joked, “Talk to Wade (Miley) tomorrow. That’s Wade’s fault. He came up to me and said, ‘That’s on me.’ ”
Walker didn’t elaborate, but he said he felt it was actually a pretty good pitch Butera hit.
“I feel I was throwing a lot of first-pitch fastballs for strikes,’’ he said. “It’s one of those things where he was waiting on it and got it pretty good. During the season, third inning, I’m probably going to mix something offspeed — curveball, changeup — just because I feel they’re going to start being more aggressive.”
Walker called the outing “a big step forward, especially with my breaking ball. I’ve been working on it a lot, and I felt really good with it today.”
Quotable: “Really good. Outstanding. He had all of his pitches going, the fastball was down in the zone. He was on top of his game. It’s great to see. I wish we could have let him go longer. It’s fun to watch him pitch. (Catcher) Chris (Iannetta) did a really good job working with him. Chris has really jelled with our pitching rather quickly. His experience is going to help all of our guys.” — Servais on Walker.
On tap: The Mariners, 4-4, face the Cubs for the first time this spring at 12:10 p.m. (Seattle time) Thursday, and the pitching matchup is a good one. Wade Miley goes for the Mariners and Tacoma’s Jon Lester starts for the Cubs, picked by many to contend for their ever-elusive World Series title. Other pitchers scheduled to work for the Mariners include Joaquin Benoit, Casey Coleman, Justin De Fratus, Paul Fry and Mayckol Guape. The game will be televised by Root Sports.