The Seattle Mariners’ best offensive opportunity against the Kansas City Royals ended with Robinson Cano thrown out at the plate.
Seattle loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth inning after falling behind by three runs and only ended up with one run. That would be all they’d score in a 4-1 loss to the Royals on Sunday.
Seth Smith and Cano led off the sixth with singles and Royals starting pitcher Ian Kennedy (3-2) walked Nelson Cruz. Reliever Danny Duffy struck out Dae-Ho Lee and Kyle Seager before Chris Iannetta hit a run-scoring single. However, right fielder Jarrod Dyson easily threw out Cano at home trying to score a second run.
“They were playing very shallow, the opposite field had a very athletic outfielder,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “It was a big point in the game, would have been a big run with momentum and everything going in our favor, but they made a play. You know, that happens in the big leagues.”
Eric Hosmer homered, Lorenzo Cain had an RBI single and scored a run, and Alex Escobar had three hits and also scored for the Royals, who had been shut out in the first two games of this series. The win snapped a five-game losing streak for Kansas City.
Taijuan Walker (2-1) pitched five innings, his shortest outing this season, and allowed a season-high three runs and seven hits for Seattle. Walker had opened the season with four starts of at least six innings while allowing two or fewer runs, which tied a team record.
“I really didn’t feel like I had my best stuff today, off-speed-wise,” Walker said. “But it was just one of those games you had to kind of grind through it.”
The Royals, who came in with seven straight road losses, extended their scoreless streak to 27 innings before ending the drought in the second. Alex Gordon started it when he was hit by a pitch. He advanced to third on a short hit by Salvador Perez, then scored on Omar Infante’s single.
Kansas City added a run in the third on Cain’s RBI single up the middle.
“We kept them at bay the last couple days, but they found some holes, got some key hits,” Servais said.
The Mariners’ defense helped out the Royals in the fifth. With two outs and Cain on second base, Seattle shortstop Ketel Marte fielded Hosmer’s grounder moving toward third. Marte’s throw to first was wild, allowing Cain to score.
“They really battled today and I kind of felt like I got a little unlucky,” Walker said. “They didn’t really hit the ball too hard.”
Hosmer capped the scoring with his fourth home run in the eighth.
Wade Davis pitched the ninth for his eighth save in eight chances.
Nori Aoki, Seattle’s usual leadoff hitter, was on the bench to start Sunday’s game. Mariners manager Scott Servais wanted to give 2B Cano some rest by slotting him at DH. With both Nelson Cruz and Seth Smith, who have split time at DH this year, in the outfield, Aoki was left out. Servais said Aoki, who has struggled at the plate so far this season, would remain the team’s usual leadoff hitter.
Aoki pinch-hit for 2B Luis Sardinas in the seventh inning and stayed in the game as the left fielder. Cano then moved from DH to 2B, taking the DH spot away for the Mariners.
Yost said reliever Luke Hochevar was not available for the game with soreness in his elbow. “As a precaution, we wanted to give him the day and we'll see how he feels tomorrow,” Yost said.
Royals: RHP Edinson Volquez (3-1, 3.64 ERA) opens the series against the Nationals on Monday, facing off against LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 1.42 ERA).
Mariners: RHP Nate Karns (2-1, 3.63 ERA) goes in the series opener against Oakland on Monday. He will be opposed by RHP Kendall Graveman (1-2, 4.03).