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Jackson Kowar struggles again in 7-1 loss to Mariners

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The rookie has trouble locating his fastball.

MLB: SEP 14 Athletics at Royals

Jackson Kowar continued his rookie year struggles, giving up five runs in four innings in a 7-1 loss to the Mariners. The Royals lose the series to Seattle and drop four of six on the homestand.

The problems started in the first for Kowar, when he walked back-to-back hitters to load the bases. Rookie Jarred Kelenic doubled to score two and make it 2-0 Seattle. Kowar would walk Dylan Moore to lead off the third. The oft-heard Denny Matthews adage that “leadoff walks will kill you” proved to be correct after J.P. Crawford singled Moore to third, and Ty France drove him home to make it 3-0 Mariners.

Kelenic has finally begun to warm up after an ice-cold start to his MLB career, and this series has been a great boost to his numbers. He homered for the third time this series to open up the third. Jake Bauers would follow that up with a 460-foot blast to extend the lead to 5-0.

Scott Blewett would relieve Kowar in the fifth, but he was also unable to retire the red-hot Kelenic, who doubled to lead off the inning. Moore would single him home to make it 6-0.

The Royals weren’t able to do much to Mariners first-round pick Logan Gilbert. They finally got to him in the sixth when Whit Merrifield doubled. Nicky Lopez singled him home to plate a run for the Royals and extend his own on-base streak to 28 games.

Mitch Haniger homered off Tyler Zuber late to make it 7-1. The only real drama for the Royals came late in the game when Salvy appeared to smash his 46th home run of the season, but replay confirmed the call on the field that the ball had hooked foul. The Mariners retired the last eight hitters of the game for an easy win.

It seemed like Kowar had turned the corner after a six-inning, two-run outing on September 1 against Cleveland. But he has given up 16 runs in 11 innings in his three starts since then, and has really struggled with fastball command. The right-hander is still very early in his career, but the early returns have not been promising.

The Royals will now travel to Cleveland and Detroit for a seven-game road trip. They’ll play a doubleheader on Monday at Progressive Field with Brady Singer scheduled to start in Game 1 at 3:10 CT.