The Kansas City Royals are rather quickly defacing the 10-game winning streak they constructed through Wednesday.
The Seattle Mariners have had something to do with it, and will now attempt to complete a three-game sweep and hand the Royals a fourth straight loss Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.
Seattle (39-36) won 2-1 on Saturday after Dustin Ackley’s single drove in Kyle Seager with two outs ninth inning, earning the Mariners a fifth win in seven games.
"If you want to have a good winning season, you have to win games like this," said Ackley, whose team won in the ninth for the second straight game.
Their pitching has made it easier to do so as they’ve allowed 15 runs in that time with the starting rotation posting a 1.76 ERA.
Kansas City (39-35) managed just three hits and has totaled seven runs in three straight losses after averaging 6.9 per game on its run to a brief stay atop the AL Central.
A pair of rookie pitchers will be facing off with Yordano Ventura trying to win his fourth straight start for the Royals against Seattle’s Roenis Elias.
Ventura (5-5, 3.26 ERA) has won his three June starts with a 2.70 ERA after going 0-4 with a 5.60 ERA in May. In Tuesday’s 11-4 win at Detroit, the 23-year-old surrendered three runs and eight hits in seven innings.
One of those May losses came in Seattle on May 10, when he allowed three runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings, including home runs to Ackley and now-injured Justin Smoak. In two career starts against the Mariners, Ventura is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA and .190 opponent batting average.
Seattle shortstop Brad Miller, who is 9 for his last 20 after going 2 for 3 Saturday, is 0 for 5 with four strikeouts against him.
Elias (6-5, 3.91) turned in one of his strongest starts of the year in Tuesday’s 6-1 win over San Diego, allowing a solo home run and a pair of singles while striking out six and walking none over seven innings.
He credited a change in midweek routine with overcoming a June 12 start in which he yielded six runs and six hits with three walks in 3 1-3 innings.
"This week I didn’t throw off the mound, I worked off flat ground," Elias told the team’s official website. "The pitching coach told me if you keep the ball down, you’re going to be unhittable. And it showed today."
He faced Kansas City on May 11 and allowed five runs – three earned – and nine hits in five innings. Alcides Escobar went 2 for 2 with a grand slam off Elias.
Seattle has won six of eight against Kansas City since Sept. 24 after the clubs split four games in Seattle from May 8-11, holding the Royals to a run or less in five times.
Royals left fielder Alex Gordon went 1 for 2 with a walk Saturday and is 9 for 21 over his last five games. He’s also batting .425 in his last 10 games against Seattle.
Fellow outfielder Nori Aoki landed on the 15-day disabled list before Saturday’s game with a strained left groin.
"It’s a grade one-plus strain," manager Ned Yost told the team’s official website. "They injected it so that will aid the healing process. So, he’ll be 15 days to 20 days and we’ll see what we get."