The KC Royals series in Seattle has been a roller coaster ride for fans and players alike.
On Monday night, rookie Yordano Ventura was pulled after throwing just 85 pitches over 5.2 innings. He had just allowed a run, but left leading the game. The following inning the bullpen blew his chance at his first big league victory.
After scoring three runs in the top of the eighth to retake the lead, Luke Hochevar coughed up the lead on back-to-back solo home runs by two guys who were not in the starting lineup that tied the game. It was the first time all season the Mariners had gone back-to-back.
To the 12th they went when Salvador Perez drove in the go ahead run with a two out double. Greg Holland picked up his 45th save of the season, which tied the Royals record. It was not without some nail biting moments, as he walked the first two batters he faced on 11 pitches (just three for strikes). After a coaching visit, Holland settled down to retire the next three batters, the final two on strikeouts.
Monday’s victory moved them to within three games of idle Cleveland for the second American League Wild Card spot.
On Tuesday night, the Royals offense was shut down by rookie James Paxton for seven innings (four hits and ten strikeouts) and the bullpen held on for the 4-0 victory. The loss, coupled with TB’s blow out win over the NY Yankees and the Indians walk off win over Chicago, pushed the Royals to four games back with five games to play.
Two of the Royals four hits against Paxton came in the first, but one was erased on a double play ground out. Lorenzo Cain doubled in the 2nd inning, but Paxton went on to retire 12 in a row before Alcides Escobar doubled with two outs in the sixth.
Royals starter Bruce Chen allowed a run in the first, as three of the first four batters singled. The Mariners broke the game open in the fifth with two outs and nobody on base. Kendry Morales (who drove in the first run) doubled before Chen walked Franklin Gutierrez. That brought up Justin Smoak, and on an 0-2 pitch, Chen gave up a three-run home run.
Chris Dwyer FINALLY made his Major League debut (he was called up a week ago) and struggled at the beginning. He allowed back-to-back singles to start his relief outing and after the runners moved up on stolen bases, he settled in. He retired the next three batters, two on strikeouts. In the seventh, he worked around a one out walk by inducing an inning ending double play.
Kelvin Herrera rebounded from quite a few poor outings to strike out two of the three batters he faced in the eighth.
Of the Royals five total hits, Eric Hosmer had two of them.
As much as Royals fans had hoped that the team could join Pittsburgh in the postseason (the Pirates clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 1992), it looks like the dream is over. The Royals will need to win the rest of their games and hope that they get some help (which they have not gotten over the last week).
The Royals did however clinch their first winning season since 2003.