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Royals surrender Grass Creek, 8-5

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Late heroics can’t overcome the massive deficit

Seattle Mariners v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

You had a feeling this one wasn't going to end well when Dillon Gee labored, early. Averaging about a pitch a minute, he allowed a single to Mariners lead-off hitter Ketel Marte. Two batters later he fielded a grounder from Robinson Cano and sailed the throw to second to put men at first and third. He managed to get Nelson Cruz down in the count 0-2 before he beaned him. Kyle Seager made him pay for these mistakes with a 2-RBI single past a diving Whit Merrifield. Gee did limit the damage by getting Adam Lind to roll into a double play to mercifully end the 22-pitch first inning.

Things then proceeded relatively uneventfully until the 4th when Gee was lifted with 2 out in favor of Brian Flynn after reaching his pitch limit with men at first and third. Marte attempted to bunt his way on and just beat the throw, which allowed Leonys Martin to score from third. Flynn struck out Seth Smith to end the inning, but the Royals faced an even steeper uphill battle against their former ally.

Flynn didn't allow any of his own runners to score in 2 and 1/3 innings. Brooks Pounders, who won his first major league game after a perfect inning against these same Mariners on Thursday, relieved him in the 7th but 3 batters into the inning he allowed Cano to hit a 2 run bomb deep into the right field seats. 2 singles later, Pounders gave up another big home run to Lind. It is puzzling why Ned Yost, having declared this an all hands on deck game, even went to Pounders with the game still in reach at the start of the 7th inning. Pounders did eventually strike out the side around the 2 home runs and 5 total runs allowed.

Brett Eibner finally got the Royals on the board in the bottom of the 7th, launching a first pitch fastball right down the middle into the Royals bullpen and finally chased Montgomery from the game. Cheslor Cuthbert greeted his replacement, Edwin Diaz, with an immediate double down the left field line but Diaz struck out Paulo Orlando and Alex Gordon to end the threat.

The Royals again, having finally reached into the leaky Seattle bullpen, did damage in the 8th inning. Christian Colon, who replaced Alcides Escobar defensively in the top of the inning, grounded out off the new reliever, David Rollins. Drew Butera singled to right, then Merrifield walked on 4 pitches. Salvador Perez also singled into right to load the bases. Rollins dispatched another 4-pitch walk to Kendrys Morales to drive in one run and leave the bases loaded. Scott Servais had seen enough and summoned Joaquin Benoit to face Eibner. But Eibner got on top of a high fastball and served an RBI single into center, still leaving the bases loaded. Cuthbert drove in Perez with a sacrifice fly near where Eibner's single had landed, making the score 8-4. But Orlando popped into right to finish the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth the Royals continued their punishment of Steve Cishek, who allowed at least one run in every appearance he made this series. Gordon greeted him with a solo shot in the same place Cano and and Lind had hit theirs. Christian Colon followed with a very patient, selfless at-bat to take a walk. Cishek, sadly, successfully retired the next 3 batters to finish the game.

Notes from today's game:

  • The Royals hit into 2 more double plays, giving them 8 in the series.
  • There were only three 1-2-3 innings between both teams in the game, two for Montgomery and one for Chris Young.
  • Eibner's home run was the first run Montgomery has ever allowed to the Royals after 16 and 1/3 innings.
  • I know many dislike one or more members of the Royals broadcast crew, but the argument about which part of the field was more difficult to defend between Denny Matthews (an infielder in college) and Ryan LeFebvre (an outfielder) during the Sundays with Denny segment brightened my day.
  • Chris Young still hasn't allowed a run as a reliever, yet, this year.
  • The Mariners’ WPA player of the game was Mike Montgomery, who pitched 6 and 1/3 inning allowing only 1 run despite being on a pitch count for 31% WPA.
  • The WPA goat for the Royals was Drew Butera at -11% WPA who went 1 for 4 but didn’t get the job done when runners were on. Paulo Orlando (0 for 4) and Brooks Pounders were tied for a close second at -10%, each.

It’s always tough to win a 4 game series, so this result is not as bad as it may seem right now. The good news is that they did not lose the series either, and the Indians also lost today. The Royals are also guaranteed not to lose tomorrow because the All-Star Break starts. They’ll return to regular season action when Ian Kennedy leads them against the Tigers in Detroit on Friday night. Enjoy your break, everyone!