Current record: 38-49
Last game: vs. White Sox. The Royals lost a tough 2-1 ballgame to Chris Sale, who boosted his W-L record to an impressive 11-2 for a second year starter. While the Royals were able to rack up 11 hits, going 2-12 with runners in scoring position isn’t quite the way to seal a victory, a fate that Mariners fans are all too familiar with this year.
The Royals are now 3-8 in July. The Mariners are 3-7.
Familiar Faces: Yuniesky Betancourt is the lone member of the Royals that used to play for Seattle, but his presence likely doesn’t instill fear in any Mariner fan. Once a top prospect, Yuni broke into the majors with Seattle in 2005 and started out as a decent shortstop, hitting .284 over his first three years with mediocre defense. Over his time in Seattle, however, he quickly declined both offensively and defensively, leading the Mariners to ship him to Kansas City in 2009 for two minor leaguers, neither of whom panned out.
Miguel Olivo played for the Royals in 2008 and 2009 and his stats wouldn’t shock anybody. Over 198 games he hit 35 homeruns… while only putting up an OBP of .286 (although Mariners fans would do anything for kind of production from him at this point).
Last series against Seattle: September 8 – September 11, 2011. The Mariners and Royals played four games in September that I honestly don’t remember anything about, looking at the box scores. They split the series 2-2 and both teams remained in fourth place in their respective divisions. It turns out the series saw Michael Pineda’s last start in Safeco Field – a start in which he went eight innings and gave up three runs with an impressive eight strikeouts to go along with one walk. Because the Mariners’ offense was his support, he took the loss.
Pitching matchups: Monday – Jason Vargas vs. LHP Jonathan Sanchez. No matter what he does over the rest of his career, I will forever equate Jonathan Sanchez with the no-hitter he threw in 2009, just like I will equate Philip Humber with his perfect game and Armando Galarraga with his near perfect game. Just like these two pitchers, however, Sanchez has been terrible this year. Coming over in the trade that netted the Giants Melky Cabrera (which seemed fair at the time), Sanchez has gone 1-5 with a 6.75 ERA. If Hector Noesi started this game for the Mariners, the pitchers would be a combined 3-16. It took the 2001 Mariners 68 games to lose their 16th.
Tuesday — ??? vs. LHP Everett Teaford. Excited to see the M’s tee off against Jonathan Sanchez? Stick around for Tuesday’s game also. Teaford is 1-3 with a 5.52 ERA and over his last two starts has pitched a total of 6.1 innings with six runs given up. I’m more interested in the ??? for this matchup though. While it seems likely that Blake Beavan will be announced as the starter following a promotion from AAA (and a likely demotion for Josh Kinney or Steve Delabar), I like the other options better. Does the organization want to thrust Danny Hultzen into the majors before he masters AAA? Hector Noesi and Erasmo Ramirez aren’t options – Noesi just pitched on Saturday and was rocked while Ramirez is still injured and is likely to need bit more recovery time.
Might I suggest an alternative? Somebody who could step up and make just two starts until Erasmo Ramirez gets healthy? Somebody that Seattle could rally behind and somebody that is looking for a place to pitch? Jamie Moyer was released by the Blue Jays and is currently out of a job. It would seem more than fitting for Moyer to make the last uniform he dons a Mariner one and, with the season already all but over, there wouldn’t be any objections.
Wednesday — Kevin Millwood vs. LHP Bruce Chen. Speaking about old players, both of these guys have been around forever (Millwood is 37, Chen is 35). There isn’t anything exciting to say about Bruce Chen. While he isn’t good, he isn’t terrible either. I don’t really want to talk about Bruce Chen. Over his 14-year career, Chen has thrown 1267.2 innings. Over his eight-year career, Felix Hernandez has thrown 1521 innings. Felix Hernandez is only 26 years old and he seems to be only getting better. Savor this, Mariners fans. Felix Hernandez has been with Seattle, is currently with Seattle, and by all accounts wants to always stay in Seattle. Which brings us to…
Thursday – Felix Hernandez vs. RHP Luke Hochevar. In 2005, Felix was ranked as the #2 prospect in all of baseball, only behind Joe Mauer (who has fashioned himself a nice little career as well). In 2006, Luke Hochevar was drafted first overall by the Royals. Felix has thrice been elected to the All-Star team and has taken home a Cy Young award. In his last outing, Felix made the best offense in baseball look silly, going the distance and allowing only three hits to the Rangers while striking out 12. Hochevar, in his last start, lasted five innings against the White Sox and gave up three runs. Take your pick.
Expected results: I feel surprisingly optimistic about this series. Game one looks very winnable unless Jason Vargas’ homerun demons come back to haunt him via Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Game two, depending on the ???, could be an interesting one (although I’m expecting Beavan and therefore not expecting much). I’ll take Millwood against Chen in game three, and game four seems to be a no-brainer. 3-1 to start the road trip? Yes, please.