SEATTLE (AP) — Chone Figgins and Ryan Langerhans were the unexpected keys to the Seattle Mariners finally beating Zach Greinke.
The Kansas City ace had been 4-0 with a 1.64 ERA in 10 career starts against Seattle. Those numbers changed drastically after the Mariners’ 7-1 victory Friday night.
Figgins, who was hitless in 21 career at-bats against Grienke, had two hits and drove in three runs. Langerhans, who was hitting .190 this season and had never faced Grienke, hit the first he saw from the Cy Young Award for a home run, then had two more hits and scored twice. He finished a triple short of the cycle.
“Historically, how he has pitched against us, you just don’t want to get deep in the count against him,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “We had a plan right away to go jump on him as much as we could.”
Of the 34 hitters Grienke faced, 15 swung at his first pitch, five for hits. That included Langerhans’ third-inning home run to deep center field.
“He made some mistakes with that first pitch,” Langerhans said. “We were aggressive and didn’t miss them. That was a big key. Instead of fouling them off, we were putting them in play.”
That was the first earned run allowed by Grienke against the Mariners in 37 innings, since April 14, 2008. That streak included a one-hit, 3-0 victory last Aug. 30, an impressive win on the way to the Cy Young Award.
“He likes it away and down a little,” Grienke said of his 90 mph fastball to Langerhans. “It was kind of down and middle away — a first pitch that is good for most guys but that is right in his power zone pretty much and he was ready for it.”
Grienke said he threw everything where he wanted, “and they still ended up scoring six runs (off him). Maybe that’s what it was. I got the best of them a couple times and it was time for them to do that to me.”
The Mariners scored their most runs since an 8-1 win over Detroit on July 4 to support Luke French (1-2). He went eight innings, allowing one run and nine hits. It was his fifth career win, third against Kansas City. His first major league win was July 8 last season when he was with Detroit, over the Royals and Grienke was the opposing pitcher.
Jack Wilson followed Langerhans’ home run with a triple into the left-center gap. With one out and the infield drawn in for a possible play at home, Figgins bounced a three-hopper past second baseman Chris Getz to score Wilson.
“He’s going to give you pitches to hit. You just have to be ready to hit them. And don’t miss him,” Figgins said. “You get behind on a guy like that, it could be a quick night.”
However, that at-bat by Figgins stood as a contrast to virtually every other plate appearance by the Mariners. It was 11 pitches. He fouled off five pitches with a 3-2 count.
Wakamatsu said “that 11-pitch at-bat to drive in a run in the third was critical.”
Grienke said that the ball skipped past Getz “was just a lucky thing.”
Wilson had a sacrifice fly and Ichiro Suzuki had a two-out RBI single in the fourth.
In the sixth, Figgins had a two-out, two-run double into the left-field corner. His three RBIs were a season high. Over his past 13 games, he is hitting .404.
Casey Kotchman finished it with a two-out RBI single in the eighth.
The Royals scored their lone run in the third. Gregor Blanco and Jason Kendall had consecutive two-out singles then Billy Butler looped a ball over second base that just eluded shortstop Wilson. Blanco scored but Kendall was caught in a rundown between second and third.
“French set the tone early,” Wakamatsu said. “After those three hits in a row to score a run, from that point on I thought he was really good. He threw strikes. He pitched to both sides of the plate and retired 11 of the last 12 hitters he faced.
“He made some great pitches when he needed to.”
NOTES: Despite leading the Royals in home runs (16) and RBIs (62), Jose Guillen was designated from assignment Thursday. The move allows the club to play highly touted prospect Kila Ka’aihue every day. Manager New Yost said the Royals “tried to find a (trading) partner, but time ran out. It got to the point we had to make a decision.” The Royals also understood that Guillen has never been happy in a reserve role. … Yost said RHP Brian Bannister will work out of the bullpen, missing at least two starts, to fix a mechanical flaw in his delivery. He has lost his last five decisions. … Kansas City SS Yuniesky Betancourt will likely miss the three-game series to be with his wife in Miami at the delivery of their first child. … Mariners OF Michael Saunders missed the game with neck soreness after crashing into the wall Sunday. … LHP Erik Bedard had his third surgery on his left shoulder Friday.