SEATTLE (AP) — The Kansas City Royals are happy to be leaving the West Coast and done with the Seattle Mariners until next season.
Felix Hernandez shook off a line drive to his left wrist and threw seven strong innings, and the Mariners overcame bullpen problems to beat the Royals 7-6 on Sunday for a four-game sweep.
It was the second time this season the Royals were swept in a four-game series and the first time Seattle has done it against Kansas City since May 2001. The sweep in Seattle concluded a miserable 1-6 West Coast swing for the Royals and a 1-7 stretch overall against the Mariners since the All-Star break.
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“It’s like every day one facet of our game is costing us and it’s just the way it’s been, especially in this series,” Royals slugger Billy Butler said. “Everybody in here can account for their reasons of losing each game, and one side of each day is coming up short, and we just got to figure it out.”
Hernandez was on pace for his sixth straight win, giving up just five hits and two runs. But he lost out on that chance when the Mariners’ bullpen gave up three runs in the eighth.
As they did previously in the series, the Mariners’ bats answered immediately. Mike Carp opened the eighth with his third hit, a double that hit the wall in left with a thud. Munenori Kawasaki came on as a pinch-runner, and Trayvon Robinson laid down a perfect sacrifice up the third-base line.
Reliever Jose Mijares (2-2) fielded the bunt, but his throw was rushed, and the ball rolled into foul territory as Kawasaki scored the go-ahead run. Casper Wells added an RBI single later in the inning.
“These are the types of games you’re glad you’re the home team and get those final at-bats,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “Ultimately, we had some guys step up late.”
While Kansas City struggled to get anything going against Hernandez they did find ways to rally off Seattle’s bullpen in the eighth and pulled even at 5-5. Lucas Luetge started the eighth for Seattle with a strikeout and was replaced by Brandon League, who gave up three hits and three runs while recording just one out. Alcides Escobar singled, and one out later Butler drove him home with a single. Salvador Perez added another single, and League was pulled in favor of Oliver Perez.
Eric Hosmer stepped in, and after a wild pitch from Perez (1-2) advanced the runners, Hosmer singled to left to drive in the pair and tie the game.
“I fell behind there, I was just trying to shorten it up and put it in play there and luckily one got through the hole and we scored two,” Hosmer said. “But this one hurt, we needed to win this game. It’s a tough road trip for us but a good off day tomorrow, get things going at home.”
The Royals added another run in the ninth off Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen on Escobar’s groundout that scored Jarrod Dyson, but Lorenzo Cain struck out to end it.
“To get the run in the ninth and then have the tying run on second, shows signs of life from our offense, and I’m pleased with that,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Even though Hernandez didn’t get the decision, his performance Sunday continued a brilliant six weeks of pitching from the 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner. Hernandez hasn’t lost since June 12 and has allowed a combined 12 earned runs over his last 67 1-3 innings. His ERA has plummeted from 3.70 to 2.79 over the last nine starts.
Hernandez got a scare in the fourth when he hung a 3-2 breaking ball to Hosmer that was lined back up the middle and off the inside of the right-hander’s left hand near his wrist. Wedge and trainer Rick Griffin went immediately to the mound as Hernandez grimaced in discomfort, but he never left the field.
Hernandez struggled to start the fifth, giving up a run on Escobar’s infield groundout, but retired his final nine batters. He struck out six and walked two.
The injury seemed to bother Hernandez. He sometimes caught return throws from catcher Miguel Olivo or his infielders with his bare hand rather than his glove.
“A little bruised. It’s fine,” Hernandez said. “They were not going to take me out today.”
NOTES: The MRI on the right knee of Royals 3B Mike Moustakas showed no damage and he is expected to be back for Tuesday’s game against the Cleveland Indians. Moustakas hurt his knee when he made a play behind third base on Saturday. Moustakas dove, and then rolled over to throw to first and hurt his knee in the process. … The other four-game sweep absorbed by the Royals this season was against Toronto. … Seattle improved to 11-6 since the All-Star break, the second-best mark in the American League.