Every season, there seems to always be a few roller coaster games. Not just your normal back and forth games. The ones that sting more than regular season games should when you lose them.
Tonight’s game was one of those games. Fortunately for the Royals, they were the ones that did the stinging, completing the three-game sweep over the Mariners with a 9-6 win in extra-innings.
The Royals jumped on the Ariel Miranda quickly in the first, when Whit Merrifield led off the inning with a single, followed by a Lorenzo Cain walk, both being driven in on an Eric Hosmer double to right-center field.
Salvador Perez would pop out to shallow centerfield, but Mike Moustakas picked him up with his 25th homer of the season to boost the Royals lead to 4-0 after half an inning.
The Royals were up four runs in the 1st inning with Jason Vargas on the mound and the Indians were losing. Everything is great, right?
Well, not just yet.
The Mariners came storming back, scoring two runs on an RBI groundout from Nelson Cruz and an RBI single from Ben Gamel to cut the Royals lead in half.
The lead turned into a deficit in the 2nd on home runs from Mike Zunino and Jean Segura, the latter being a two-run bomb, to give the Mariners a 5-4 lead.
Nelson Cruz added a solo shot in the 3rd to make it a 6-4 game.
Vargas hadn’t given up three homers in a start since June 26 of the 2014 season and marked just the 7th time in his career that he had done so.
Fortunately for the Royals, their big first inning made six Mariner runs over the first three innings just a two run deficit.
And in the 5th, Cain erased that deficit with a two-run, 427-foot tank to left-center field.
The leanback was spectacular.
Cain’s home all but ended Miranda’s night, who had settled down nicely after giving up four first inning runs. He gave up just two baserunners from Moustakas’ home run until Cain’s home run and struck out six Royals in the process.
Right-hander Tony Zych replaced him in the 6th and gave the Mariners two strong innings, not allowing a base runner, and striking out four of the first six batters he faced.
Meanwhile, the Royals replaced their struggling starter with Scott Alexander, who also responded with two scoreless innings, but needed a bit more effort to get their.
After a spotless 6th, Taylor Motter led 7th with a single and moved to second on a Segura groundout. A walk to Danny Valencia put runners on first and second for a struggling Robinson Cano, who grounded into an inning ending double play.
Entering the night, Cano had gotten just one hit in his previous 16 at-bats and was hitless in the series before his first inning single.
The Royals came right back with a threat of their own when a Hosmer walk and Moustakas single put the go-ahead run at second with two outs. The Moustakas single prompted Mariners manager Scott Servais’ to bring his closer Edwin Diaz into the game to face Jorge Soler.
He struck out Soler looking on a 3-2 breaking pitch that was actually a ball.
Zunino gave Mike Minor a scare in the 9th, flying out to the wall to begin the 9th.
The flyout would be the last scare of regulation, as Minor needed just five pitches to send the game to extras.
In the 10th, Rex talked about Dale Sveum’s iPad of Knowledge, to which I envisioned a thought bubble appearing above Phys’ head with every known sign for a hit and run over the course of human history.
Phys visions aside, Cain began the inning by grounding a ball to Cano, who booted it to give the Royals a leadoff base runner.
The error was Cano’s second booted ground ball in as many days.
Then Sal decided the game was over, taking a James Pazos 94-MPH sinker over the right field fence to put the Royals up 8-6. It was Sal’s 17th homer of the season.
It is also worth noting that while we are talking a whole lot about Moustakas chasing Steve Balboni’s home run record, Perez is on pace to be just three home runs short of the infamous 36 mark.
The Royals also weren’t quite done in the 10th, when Moustakas followed with a sharp single into left field and moved to second when the ball got past Gamel in left.
A Soler walk forced Servais’ to remove Pazos in favor of Nick Vincent, who appeared to get a double play ball from Escobar that would have ended the inning.
Escobar was called safe on what looked like a bang-bang play, but the umpire signaled that Valencia had actually come off the bag.
That would come back to bite the Mariners, with Alex Gordon following with an RBI single to right field to pad the Royals lead at 9-6.
Kelvin Herrera went 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the 10th to seal the Royals first sweep of July,
The win, aided by Cleveland’s 6-2 loss to San Diego, also brought the Royals back to just a half game back of the Indians for the AL Central division lead and put the Royals at a season-best four games above .500.
Up Next: Royals at Dodgers, Friday July 7, 9:10 PM CDT, Dodger Stadium; RHP Jason Hammel (4-7, 5.08 ERA) v. TBD.