July 17, 2012 in Sports

Smoak, Saunders power M’s past Royals

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Seattle’s Michael Saunders receives congratulatons after his two-run homer in the fifth inning.
(Full-size photo)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Seattle Mariners’ quick-strike offense has scored 13 runs in the first two innings in winning their first two games at Kansas City.

Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders each hit two-run homers and the Mariners beat the Royals 9-6 Tuesday night.

Every Mariners starter had at least one hit. Jesus Montero went 3 for 4 and drove in two runs.

Smoak homered with Montero aboard in the three-run first inning. It was the second straight game Smoak homered in the first. Montero’s double scored Casper Wells with the first run.

“Those guys are swinging the bats well, too, so we’re going to have score some runs,” Smoak said. “It was good to get on the board early.”

The Mariners, who scored seven runs in the first two innings Monday, added three more runs in the second inning.

“It’s good any time the offense goes out there and puts up early runs like that,” said winning pitcher Blake Beaven. “It gives you more confidence to go out there and get them back in the dugout and let them keep swinging it.”

Saunders homered in the fifth inning off Vin Mazzaro after Miguel Olivo singled to give the Mariners a 9-3 cushion.

“When you set the tone early like that and give yourself some breathing room, it allows our young players to go out there and relax and play and work to their true abilities a little bit easier,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “We’ve had some guys that have been struggling and working to find it. It’s been nice to see them put some consistent days together. It’s nice to see us swing the bats like that.”

The Mariners’ three-run second chased left-hander Ryan Verdugo, who was making his big league debut. Kyle Seager doubled home two runs, while Montero singled in the other run.

Beaven (4-6), who was just recalled from Triple-A Tacoma, worked six-plus innings, allowing five runs on seven hits.

He logged his first victory since May 30 after going 0-2 with a 15.43 ERA in two June starts, which merited a demotion to the Pacific Coast League.

Verdugo (0-1) yielded six runs on eight hits and two walks in 1 2-3 innings.

“I got those first two outs and I was trying to take a deep breath,” Verdugo said. “The game is different up here. It’s much quicker.

“I left the ball up a little. I might have been a little too amped up. I was nervous on the drive up here, but it didn’t really affect me. I just really didn’t execute pitches too well. I just left a few pitches up and they took advantage. I know I still have to go out and execute.”

Tim Wilhelmsen worked a spotless ninth for his eighth save in 10 opportunities. Wilhelmsen has not allowed a run in 23 innings over his past 19 games.

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