Mariners Insider

Royals 4, Mariners 3 — the struggles continue

Post by Ryan Divish on Sep. 3, 2013 at 9:21 pm with 10 Comments »
September 3, 2013 9:28 pm
Mike Moustakas (8) celebrates with teammates Emilio Bonifacio (64) and Eric Hosmer, right, after scoring the go-ahead run in the eighth inning at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday
Mike Moustakas (8) celebrates with teammates Emilio Bonifacio (64) and Eric Hosmer, right, after scoring the go-ahead run in the eighth inning at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday

BOX

The playoff hopes of the Kansas City Royals rank somewhere between slim and minute with none looming. But a series with the Seattle Mariners is providing them a reason to hope.

The Mariners and their punchless offense mustered three runs on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium, which seems like a lot considering the output over the few weeks. But it wasn’t enough.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Salvador Perez singled to left off of Yoervis Medina and Mike Moustakas raced home ahead of the throw to score the go-ahead run in a 3-3 game.  The Mariners had no chance against Kansas City closer Greg Holland in the ninth inning, going down in order and losing to the Royals 4-3.

It was Seattle’s third straight loss. And over the course of their last 12 games, they are 3-9. Those three wins came against the worst team in baseball – the Houston Astros.

Manager Eric Wedge has sounded like a song on repeat since returning from a month-long absence when describing the team’s hitting struggles. There are so many ways he can lament about his team’s inability to hit with runners in scoring position or even on base.

“We aren’t scoring a great deal of runs,” Wedge said. “But it’s not because we don’t have opportunities.  We’ve had some opportunities but we just aren’t taking advantage of them.”

So what can they do?

“The key is just keep getting guys on base,” said third baseman Kyle Seager. “If you keep getting guys on base, you are eventually going to get hits there.”

The Mariners (62-75) had plenty of guys on base, but the hits weren’t there. Seattle had 10 hits in the game and stranded seven runners, while going 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. In the last four games, they are 1-for-28 with runners in scoring position.

The squandered chances started early. The Mariners had runners on first and third with no outs in the second inning and failed to score. In fact, they didn’t hit a ball out of the infield.  In the third inning, they had a runners on second with one out, two straight ground balls to end the inning.

They finally broke through in the sixth inning, down 3-0. Franklin Gutierrez singled off of Royals starter Bruce Chen. Kyle Seager continued to show why he’s the Mariners best hitter this season, blasting a deep two-run homer to right field. It was Seager’s 22nd home run of the year and his 10th off of left-handed pitchers.

“You definitely want to improve with anything,” Seager said. “Hitting lefties was definitely one of the areas we talked about improving. There’s been a couple adjustments I’ve made this year.”

His homer was just the Mariners’ third extra base hit in their last 32 innings of baseball.

Seattle tied it an inning later. Abe Almonte reached on a bunt base hit. Wedge brought in Kendrys Morales to pinch hit for Brendan Ryan. The move worked. Morales singled sharply to right field. Almonte, who was stealing second on the pitch, easily made it to third base.

“It was good to see Kendrys get a big hit tonight,” Wedge said. “We need to get him going.”

Almonte easily scored on Brad Miller’s soft ground ball out to second base moments later.

The Mariners had good chance to take the lead in the eighth.  Raul Ibanez reached on a one-out infield single off of reliever Tim Collins. Justin Smoak followed with a double down the left field line. With runners on second and third and one out, Royals manager Ned Yost called on Luke Hochevar to pitch to Mike Zunino. Hochevar was able to strike out Zunino looking and then got Endy Chavez to fly out to center to end the threat.

“He really pitched Zunino tough,” Wedge said.

It looked as though the Mariners got a break in the eighth inning to keep the game at least tied going into the ninth. Eric Hosmer drew a lead-off walk from reliever Charlie Furbush. Wedge replaced Furbush with right-hander Yoervis Medina to face the right-handed hitting Billy Butler. The move worked as Butler grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.

The break for the Mariners was that Hosmer was probably safe at second. He was stealing on the play and Seager still elected to throw to second for the force out. Replays showed that Hosmer beat the throw.

But the good fortune lasted for only a minute or two. Moustakas hit a lower liner to center field. Rookie Abe Almonte tried to make a diving catch on a ball he had no chance of catching. The ball got past him a little and Moustakas was able to get a double instead of being held to a single.

“It’s an aggressive, young play,” Wedge said. “But he’s not going to make that catch. The best play for him is to probably pull up and catch it on a hop and keep him at first and keep him out of scoring position. He’s trying to make a play right there, just a little overly aggressive.”

That one base was huge. All-star catcher Salvador Perez, who had two hits earlier, including a homer, yanked a sinker from Medina into left field to score Moustakas.

Starter Erasmo Ramirez gave the Mariners a decent outing, pitching 6 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts.

Royals’ lead-off hitter Alex Gordon hit Ramirez’s first pitch of the game over the wall in left field to give Kansas City a 1-0 lead.

“You don’t expect that on the first pitch,” Ramirez said. “He had a good swing and hit it hard.”

Perez homered in the fourth inning and Butler had an RBI single in the fifth.

“They were a couple bad pitches,” Ramirez said. “Today I didn’t feel my best, but I did my best. And I have to do that every time I go to the mound.”

 

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Leave a comment Comments → 10
  1. If the M’s season was a movie, then the title should be Missed Opportunities. Same spit, another day. Good to see Smoak and Seager hit well at least. I wasn’t worried about Seager after his slump. Erasmo also pitched fairly well.

  2. Quinault says:

    How many pitches did Ryan see? At least he did not strike out.

  3. Forget about Ryan. He’s gone come October.

  4. westside_guy says:

    Kylie’s got the right attitude!

  5. westside_guy says:

    Er, KYLE.

  6. This team can’t hit with runners in scoring position. 1 million dollars to the person that can definitively say why.

  7. Could be youth? Anyone willing to bet a large sum on it? Not that I would bet you. I’m just saying it’s complicated.

  8. Coach81 says:

    Hitting with runners in scoring position is a mindset. I deal with it a lot with the high school players, they see someone in scoring position and they freak out and try to do too much. That’s how guys get caught in-between pitches or start chasing garbage. I would bet our strikeout percentage with RISP is near the top of the league. For some guys, instead of being too aggressive, they do the complete opposite and become too passive and look at 2 startight fastballs down the pipe. Youth is part of it, instincts is part of it, but having the ability to slow the game down a little bit and remain calm with a solid approach is the key. St. Louis does a great job of identifying those types of hitters, guys like Yadi, Craig, and Carpenter. None of them have huge HR numbers, but they kill with RISP, because they don’t change their approach or lose focus mentally.

  9. Coach81 says:

    Straight*

  10. Quinault says:

    Pay the man.

*
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