SEATTLE — The offense wasn’t the problem. Sure, there have been many games where you could pinpoint tepid hitting as the downfall of the Mariners. But Seattle banged out seven runs on 11 hits with two homers on Sunday. That should have been enough.
But some shaky defense led to two unearned runs and could be attributed to more in a 9-7 loss to the Royals at Safeco Field.
Even with the inconsistent glove work in the field, the Mariners held a 7-5 lead going into the seventh inning.
But the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead, allowing its first runs in 16 innings. Danny Farquhar gave up a double to Eric Hosmer to start the inning. Farquhar came back to strike out Billy Butler, but walked Danny Valencia and Alex Gordon to load the bases. Farquhar threw borderline pitches to Valenica and Gordon with two strikes that were called balls. Judging by his reaction, the reaction of catcher Mike Zunino and the Mariners dugout, they didn’t agree with the calls of home plate umpire Marcus Pattillo. Lorenzo Cain scored a run on a sacrifice fly to center and Giovatella scored the other two runners, hitting a three-run homer into the visiting bullpen to make it 9-7.
The Mariners got an uneven start from Roenis Elias. The young lefty has certainly been sharper this season. His command of his pitches would come and go for much of his outing. He lasted just five innings, giving up five runs (three earned) on nine hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
While Elias’ command wasn’t great, the defense behind him wasn’t much better. In the second inning, the Royals hit a pair of ground balls to third base—sandwiched around a single to left field from Alex Gordon—the first ground ball was ruled a hit for Valencia, but the second was ruled an error on Seager. Both are plays he normally makes.
Regardless of the official scoring, it loaded the bases for Alcides Escobar, who unloaded them quickly, belting a first-pitch fastball over the wall in left field for his first career grand slam.
The Mariners answered in the bottom of the third. Dustin Ackley hammered a solo homer over the wall in center field off of Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie to start the inning. Guthrie hit Stefen Romero with a pitch and Mike Zunino singled, setting up the slumping Brad Miller, who came into the at-bat hitless in his last 19 at-bats. Miller delivered, doubling to the right-center gap to cut the lead to 4-3.
But the Mariners gave a run right back in the top of the fourth. Justin Smoak mishandled a slow ground ball with a runner on third, allowing another unearned run to score to make it 5-3.
Smoak and Seager tried to atone for their mistakes in the bottom of the fourth. Smoak singled to right with one out. Seager then yanked a pitch down the right-field line for a two-run homer to tie the score at 5-5. Ackley immediately gave Seattle a lead, blasting his second homer of the game, a shot into right-center, to make it 6-5. It was the first multi-homer game of his career. With his sixth-inning homer on Saturday, he had homered in three straight plate appearances.
The Mariners pushed it to 7-5 in the fifth. James Jones led off the inning with a double and Corey Hart singled him home.