Sanchez struggles early in Royals loss
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- One week ago, Kauffman Stadium was filled with boos intended to support the Royals' hometown guy. On Monday night, the hometown guy was the recipient.
Jonathan Sanchez allowed the first five Seattle batters he faced to score and gave up seven runs before getting yanked in the second inning. The Mariners took advantage of the rare offensive outburst and cruised to a 9-4 victory over Kansas City in their series opener.
"I just got hit around," said Sanchez, who has become the biggest target for vitriolic fans who see a season that began with such promise quickly slipping away.
They voiced their displeasure as Sanchez trudged off the mound. The wave of boos that they cast forth from the stands was eerily similar to the sounds directed at Yankees slugger Robinson Cano during last Monday night's Home Run Derby, when Kansas City fans were filled with angst over his decision not to select a Royals player for his American League lineup.
The fans booed that night in support of Billy Butler, their All-Star designated hitter.
There wasn't much support from anybody for Sanchez on this night.
"It's one of those games where they were on him, put seven runs up early and there's not much we could do," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
The outing by Sanchez (1-6) was so abysmal that Yost had to call upon Everett Teaford, his projected starter for Tuesday night, just to get through the game.
Yost said afterward that he wasn't sure who will start in Teaford's place.
The Mariners certainly took advantage of the Royals' pitching woes.
Casper Wells hit a three-run homer during the five-run first and added a two-run triple in the second to set a career high for RBIs. Justin Smoak added a two-run shot, Dustin Ackley went deep and Ichiro Suzuki drove in another run with a triple of his own.
"I loved the way they turned around some fastballs," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "If you want to be a good big league hitter, you have to turn around some fastballs."
Or whatever else Sanchez was throwing.
Acquired this past offseason from San Francisco for outfielder Melky Cabrera, the MVP of last week's All-Star game at Kauffman Stadium, Sanchez has been nothing short of abysmal all year.
He hasn't gone past the sixth inning since May 28, 2011, hasn't allowed fewer than four runs since early June, and his already-bloated ERA rose to 7.76 for the season.
Asked what Sanchez had done to earn a spot in the rotation, Yost contritely replied: "I'm not going to answer that."
Jason Vargas (9-7) took advantage of Seattle's instant offense, giving up homers to Salvador Perez and Butler but still lasting six innings to win his second straight game.
"When your offense comes out like that," Vargas said, "you shouldn't blow the lead."
Sanchez was in trouble right from the start, walking Ackley on five pitches and then watching Suzuki dump a single to left before Wells' three-run homer. Jesus Montero added a single and Smoak hit his two-run shot, giving the Mariners a 5-0 lead after just five batters.
Sanchez retired the next batter to get through the inning, but gave up another base hit to Brendan Ryan leading off the second. Ackley added a single and Wells his triple, giving Seattle a 7-0 lead and sending Sanchez on the slow walk back to the dugout.
He still hasn't won since his Royals debut on April 8.
All that offense came from a Seattle lineup that came into the night second-to-last in the AL in homers, runs and team batting average (.229), and last in OBP and RBIs.
Perez homered to help Kansas City crack the scoreboard in the third inning, and Butler's two-run shot with two outs gave the Royals' sullen fanbase reason to hope -- at least until Suzuki's RBI triple and Ackley's homer dashed them entirely.
"Last time I was better. Today I just got hit around. They hit good pitches," Sanchez said afterward. "Trust me, if I knew (what was wrong) it would be fixed already."
NOTES: Ryan left after his second-inning at-bat, when he fouled a pitch off his left knee. He is day to day with a bruise. ... SS Alcides Escobar grounded into double plays his first two at-bats, making him responsible for four of the Royals' first eight outs. ... Kansas City 2B Yuniesky Betancourt had his 200th career double in the second inning. ... RHP Blake Beavan is expected to return from Triple-A Tacoma to start Tuesday for Seattle.