The Kansas City Royals clinched a winning west coast road trip for the first time since September 2011 on Sunday, defeating the Seattle Mariners 9-7 thanks to some offensive production that would make Earl Weaver smile.
The Royals received two clutch homeruns from their middle infielders, also taking advantage of some terrible Seattle defense. Kansas City jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Danny Valencia and Alex Gordon led off the inning with back-to-back singles, then Lorenzo Cain reached base thanks to a Kyle Seager error. Alcides Escobar jumped on the first pitch he saw from Roenis Elias, blasting a first-pitch fastball over the left field wall for a grand slam.
Jeremy Guthrie, who did not look particularly impressive, ran into some problems in the bottom of the third. Dustin Ackley led off the inning with a solo shot, driving a 1-1 curveball to deep centerfield and over the wall. Guthrie then plunked Stefen Romero and surrendered a single to Mike Zunino before Brad Miller plated both runners with a double. The damage could have been worse; Eric Hosmer made a nice catch on a Robinson Cano line drive that could have been extra bases, then doubled off Miller to preserve the Royals 4-3 advantage.
Kansas City picked up another run in the fourth thanks to more shoddy Seattle defense. Johnny Giavotella led off the inning with a walk, followed by an Escobar single. Gio advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt from Zunino, who threw the ball into centerfield. Norichika Aoki then hit a grounder to first, but Justin Smoak could not handle the ball, allowing Gio to score.
Seattle tied the game with back-to-back homers in the bottom half of the inning. With Smoak on first, Kyle Seager lined a pitch down the rightfield line that just cleared the wall. Ackley followed with his second homer of the game, and third in two days.
Ned Yost finally yanked Guthrie in the bottom of the fifth. James Jones led off the inning with a double, and Corey Hart drove him in with a two-out single. Guthrie finished the day allowing seven runs on eight hits, recording more homers allowed (3) than strikeouts (2).
Fortunately, the Royals weren't done scoring. Hosmer led off the top of the seventh with a ground rule double against Danny Farquhar, followed by the reliever issuing one out walks to Valencia and Gordon. Cain cut the lead to 7-6 with a sacrifice fly before Giavotella delivered the Royals second homer of the game. Gio's homer looked similar to Escobar's; the middle infielder jumped on the first pitch and deposited over the left field wall.
The win probability chart resembles a roller coaster:
Louis Coleman, Aaron Crow, Wade Davis and Greg Holland each tossed a scoreless inning of relief. The Mariners finished the game with five errors, a truly impressive display of fielding incompetence.
The Royals have an off-day Monday before returning to home on Tuesday. The team will start a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies, with James Shields facing off against Franklin Morales in the opener.