When the Mariners left Kansas City back in April, nothing seemed to be halting their inferno lineup. Drilling home runs left and right, the 13-2 record surprised the rest of the league, especially after the moves they made in the offseason to sell. However since then, Seattle had won only 18 of the next 60 games. Making it 18 of 61 games thanks to Jorge Soler flexing his muscles late, the Royals stole game one from the Mariners 6-4.
With Seattle tossing out an opener for the top of the first in Tayler Scott, Kansas City wasted no time in pouncing on the Mariners first pitcher. After Whit Merrifield led things off with a single to center field, Cheslor Cuthbert drove him home four batters later with two outs on a shallow pop-up behind first base. Recently re-called outfielder Jorge Bonifacio followed that up by poking one between shortstop and third base to bring Jorge Soler in. Taking a 2-0 lead into the bottom half, Danny Duffy looked to build off his last start on Wednesday in which he completed seven innings of two-run ball.
Working around some early trouble in innings 1-3, Duffy’s pitch count took a toll on a night that needed a longer outing from the starter. Coming off an afternoon game on Sunday in which Jakob Junis couldn’t get out of the fourth inning, Duffy unfortunately entered the fifth inning with 84 pitches on the evening. Stepping on the bump with a 2-1 lead, the California native likely had just one inning of work left in the tank. Although his numbers haven’t necessarily dominated opposing teams, the inability to avoid one big inning has hindered Duffy’s chances at a much better earned run average and record. Elapsing the 100 pitch mark and facing two runners on and two outs, Duffy left a slider up in the zone to catcher Tom Murphy. Murphy, who had six home runs in his previous eight games, disposed the slider over the wall in left-center field to put Kansas City behind for the first time on the night.
Back on the offensive side, Tommy Milone relieved Scott and went on to shut out the Royals over the course of five consecutive innings. Having difficulties with his change-up, Kansas City hitters produced just one base runner since the top of the first. But in the seventh inning, after Bonifacio led off with a double and came around on a sacrifice-fly by Martin Maldonado, Milone exited and the deficit was trimmed to one heading into the eighth.
Receiving two solid frames from Brian Flynn, who hadn’t pitched in ten days, the Mariners were unable to take the lead and run with it after Murphy’s bomb in the fifth. Still needing a rally from the top of the order in the eighth, both Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi were put away quickly. Alex Gordon kept things alive on a first pitch single to left to extend the inning for Soler. Leading the team in home runs with 18, the Royals’ best chance to tie or take the lead came now. Pulling all of those 18 home runs into the stands ranging from center to left field, Soler for the first time this year smacked one the other way. Just clearing the wall in right-center, the two-run shot returned the lead back to Kansas City at 5-4. Jake Diekman manage to tight rope out of a jam with two runners on in the bottom half of the inning to preserve the one-run cushion.
In the ninth, Maldonado joined the home run club and admired his solo shot sail out of the yard in left to put some much needed run support on the board. Ian Kennedy worked through drama but slammed the door and earned his second save in as many days. The come from behind victory in the eighth inning or later is just the second for the club in 2019. Up next, another late night is coming on Tuesday. Homer Bailey will go for the Royals as Yusei Kikuchi faces Kansas City for the second time. First pitch is slated for 9:10 CT