Hey folks, Bud Withers here, a spot starter, as it were, on the Mariners-Royals tonight from Safeco Field. M’s have won 11 of their last 14 and are in hailing distance of first place in the AL West for the second game of a four-game series. It promises to be a chilly, maybe breezy evening here at Safeco.
Brandon Maurer makes his fourth start of the year for Seattle, while ex-M’s lefty Jason Vargas goes for Kansas City. Vargas has been touched up pretty hard in his last two outings, but has a big history of success in the month of May.
They’re opening the roof here at 6:50 and the skies look to be partly cloudy. Back in a few . . .
AFTER 1, ROYALS, 1-0 — Kansas City breaks on top, 1-0, which for the Royals is something of a story. They had been shut out in 27 straight innings by the M’s, dating back to last September. Could have been a lot worse for the M’s without a successful replay challenge by M’s manager Lloyd McClendon, who took issue with a safe call at second base on an errant throw from Willie Bloomquist at third to Robinson Cano on a force play at second. It scored leadoff hitter Nori Aoki from third, but getting that first out on the successful challenge helped Brandon Maurer get out of the inning with just the one run scored.
VARGAS DEALING — Jason Vargas looks sharp, having retired the first six M’s to face him. Vargas had allowed 12 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings over his last two starts. Royals still lead, 1-0.
ROYALS 2, M’S 0 AFTER 3 — Seattle broke through with its first hit with one out in the third inning, as Mike Zunino’s hard grounder couldn’t be fielded cleanly by Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar. KC manufactured a run in the top half as Escobar dunked a single to right, stole second, took third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Eric Hosmer’s sac fly to left.
THIS ISN’T GOING WELL — I wrote in the pre-game notes about the struggles of shortstop Brad Miller, and they continue, this time in the field. He made a throwing error in the top of the fourth, his club-leading sixth, leading to two unearned Kansas City runs, and the Royals lead it, 4-0. Vargas has given up only one hit in four innings, so it’s a definite uphill battle tonight for Seattle.
AFTER SIX, ROYALS, 5-0 — Seattle has mustered just two hits off Vargas, the second one a liner through the box in the fifth inning by Dustin Ackley, after Mike Zunino’s sharp grounder in the third that shortstop Alcides Escobar couldn’t handle. Brandon Maurer has thrown an economical 73 pitches and goes out for the seventh inning.
SMOKE, BUT NO FIRE FOR THE M’S — For the first time all night, the M’s got two runners aboard against Vargas in the seventh as Robinson Cano led off with a hit and Corey Hart was hit in the hip by a pitch. But Justin Smoak’s short fly to right was gloved by a sliding Nori Aoki, Willie Bloomquist lined to center, and Dustin Ackley forced Hart at second to end the threat. So it’s Royals, 5-0, after 7.
MAURER GONE IN THE 8TH — The Royals’ 14th single of the night against Maurer — they’ve had no extra-base hits — finally KO’ed the Mariner righthander, and they’ve scored a sixth run. On to the bottom of the eighth, Royals ahead, 6-0. Aaron Crow is coming on for KC now after Vargas’ three-hit, seven-inning effort.
M’S FINALLY BREAK THROUGH — An unearned run finally got the M’s on the board in the bottom of the eighth. With Aaron Crow in the game in relief of Vargas, Brad Miller drew a one-out walk, and an out later, pinch-hitter James Jones rifled a double down the rightfield line. When Nori Aoki threw errantly in, Miller scored and Jones took third. But Robinson Cano lined to center to end it. So it’s 6-1, KC, after 8.