An early-game lead with five runs scored, followed by a blowup fifth inning featuring fielding miscues and runs given back to their opponents leading to a lost lead and late-inning defeat?

Nope, not again.

After enduring that nightmarish plotline once on this homestand in a loss to the Rangers, the Mariners made sure there wasn’t a repeat failure Saturday night.

After mimicking that script for the first seven innings, the Mariners exploded for six runs in the eighth inning, turning a tie game and potential defeat into a decisive 13-7 win over the Kansas City Royals.

The Mariners will try to wrap up the first homestand of the season with a three-game sweep of the Royals on Sunday afternoon with ace Robbie Ray on the mound. The Mariners have the second-best record in the American League at 9-6 and it puts them in first place in the AL West.

“That’s never fun,” Ty France said of squandered loss on Thursday. “We didn’t want to lose this one.”

With the score tied at 7-7 going into the bottom of the eighth, the Mariners took the lead on four consecutive walks from left-handed reliever Jake Brentz, who was once a pitcher in the Mariners’ minor league system acquired in a trade in 2015 and later traded to Pittsburgh.


Brentz, who has a fastball that touches 98 mph, walked Eugenio Suarez, Abraham Toro and Tom Murphy to load the bases and bring precocious rookie Julio Rodriguez to the plate.

With most of the crowd of 28,503 in the stadium and chanting “Julio! Julio,” Rodriguez showed the plate discipline that hasn’t necessarily rewarded him. With a 3-2 count, he refused to chase a fastball at 98 mph that sat just below the strike zone, despite being the victim of many a called third strike on pitches out of the strike zone. Home-plate ump Dan Iassogna called it a ball and the go-ahead run was forced home. Rodriguez did a quick double take to make sure.

“I knew it was a ball,” he said. “But I was like, ‘Man, if you call that (a strike) right now we are going to have words. I feel like that would’ve be the time that you would see me getting fired up about something.”

As he pounded his chest in celebration and the crowd roared, Rodriguez felt chills.

“To be honest with you, this was the first time playing professional baseball that I got goosebumps playing on the field,” he said. “That’s not counting playing with Dominican Republic national team; this was the first time I got goose bumps playing. It was not in the at-bat but right afterward.”

Asked how he kept his composure with his fans chanting his name and the adrenaline of the moment, Rodriguez replied: “That’s my job.”


Two batters later Jesse Winker smoked a double to right field to score two more runs.

But Winker wanted to talk about the Rodriguez at-bat.

“You know you watch him in that moment and he just slowed everything down,” Winker said. “That was a special at-bat from him. He got some good swings off the bat too. And then he just calmed down. He just zoned it in and really challenged the pitcher and won it.”

Ty France punctuated his 5-for-5 night with a three-run homer into The ‘Pen to that turned that constant party into bedlam.

“I was just trying to get on time for a fastball,” France said “He was throwing a firm fastball and I wanted just get the (front) foot down and try and put a good swing on it. That one felt pretty good.”

It was the first five-hit game of his pro career and perhaps his baseball career. He didn’t recall another one.

“Not even in the minor leagues or in college,” he said.


After rookie starter Matt Brash walked the first batter of the game, which eventually led to a Royals run, the Mariners answered by roughing up KC starter Kris Bubic of the next three innings.

With Mitch Haniger still on the COVID injured list and Winker out of the lineup, J.P. Crawford was moved to the No. 3 spot in the batting order. He made the move seem prescient, blasting a two-run homer off Bubic into the seats in deep right-center.

The Mariners tacked on two more runs in the second inning on Jarred Kelenic’s hard RBI single to right field and France followed with an RBI single to center — his second of five hits.

The Mariners pushed the lead to 5-1 to start the third inning when Eugenio Suarez led off with a double and scored on Abraham Toro’s ground-rule double to right field. It ended Bubic’s outing.

But the Mariners should’ve had at least one more run in the inning when Murphy crushed a double off the wall in center. But Toro got a poor read on the ball, appearing to think that center fielder Whit Merrifield might catch it. He only advanced to third base. Still the Mariners had a runner at third and no outs. But reliever Joel Payamps got Rodriguez to pop up to first base, struck out Kelenic and got Moore to ground out to third to end the inning. The Mariners challenged the play at first base believing that Moore had beat the throw. But replay officials allowed the call to stand.

That 5-1 lead was gone, reduced to a one-run lead in a ghastly fifth inning. Brash allowed back-to-back one-out singles to Andrew Benintendi and Salvador Perez, which ended his outing.

Interim manager Kristopher Negron brought in right-hander Matt Festa to limit the damage. It didn’t quite happen. A walk to Carlos Santana loaded the bases. The Mariners committed two errors on the next play as Crawford made a brilliant diving stop on a hard hit ball. But his off-balance throw to Suarez at third almost went into the Royals dugout, allowing a run to score. Suarez picked up the ball and fired wildly home allowing the runners to advance. Bobby Witt Jr. followed with a single to center to score a run. It was a three-run inning that changed the lead from 5-1 to 5-4.

Up 6-4, the Mariners allowed the Royals to take the lead in the seventh when Yohan Ramirez gave up a two-run homer to Santana and Anthony Misiewicz allowed a run-scoring double that made it 8-6.