KANSAS CITY, Mo.– Coming off back-to-back quality starts, the Seattle Mariners should feel confident going into the third game of the series Saturday against Kansas City.
Kansas City's offense is struggling, and Wade Miley, Seattle's starting pitcher on Saturday, has done well almost every time he has faced them.
Miley owns a 4-1 career record in five starts against Kansas City with a 2.91 ERA. He joined the Mariners this off-season after pitching for five years with the Diamondbacks and the Red Sox.
In his first appearance against Kansas City in a Mariners uniform, he threw his first career shutout, giving up just five hits and striking out four back on April 30 in Seattle.
Seattle manager Scott Servais hopes things continue the way they have gone in the first two games of the series.
On Thursday, James Paxton threw just 57 pitches through the first seven innings. He had to throw 21 more in the eighth, but still left with a 3-2 lead. Kansas City came back to win 4-3 on a two-run double by Salvador Perez.
In Friday's 3-2 win, Hisashi Iwakuma allowed one run and five hits in 6 2/3 innings and Edwin Diaz retired Jarrod Dyson with a runner in scoring position for the final out of the seventh.
“Our guys did an outstanding job (Friday)” Servais said. “With Iwakuma and the bullpen we kind of matched them up a bit. It was a nice job by Diaz coming back (in the seventh) after getting down 3-0 on Dyson. He just calmed down and made his pitches. The story of the night is definitely our pitching.”
Some of the credit or blame must go to the Kansas City offense. Even with a 28-12 home record that is the best, when the bats go silent they go real silent.
The Royals are a 14-12 in their 26 games and has showcased the tendencies of an inconsistent offense.
In their 14 wins, the Royals have batted .308 and averaged 5.6 runs. In the 12 losses, Kansas has batted .240 and averaged 2.9 runs.
Part of the problem is that Kansas City does not take a lot of pitches. The Royals are last in Major League Baseball in walks with 192 through 86 games. Three American League teams have at least 300 walks.
Manager Ned Yost defiantly says it's part of his team's DNA.
“We're an aggressive team,” he said. “You try to find what's best for your guys and our guys are aggressive guys. If the other guy is throwing strikes, they're going to be swinging the bat. Sometimes it plays into your game.
The other day (Wednesday), I was really impressed with (Toronto's Marcus) Stroman. He threw 68 pitches going into the eighth inning. We still found a way to tie the ballgame. We ended up losing the game.
“Last night it was 57 pitches (by Paxton) going into the eighth. Dang, that's unheard of. But we still found a way to win the ballgame. It's something you can't change. It's what we are, it's who we are. When it works it's great. When it doesn't, people want to criticize.
Yost will be hoping that his starter, Edinson Volquez, can build on a solid start Monday in Toronto. Volquez allowed one run on just three hits in the first six innings before breaking down in the seventh. He left with no outs in the seventh and the bases loaded. All three runners scored.
The key will be the first inning. Volquez has allowed 14 earned runs in the first inning of his 18 starts this season (7.00 ERA), while his season ERA is 4.87.
Volquez has pitched better at home, where he's 5-3 with a 4.22 ERA in 10 starts. He's 2-5 with a 5.72 ERA on the road.