KANSAS CITY, Mo. – As they packed their bags following a fourth straight defeat, the somber Seattle Mariners were grasping for any positives they could take out of another wasted afternoon.
A ninth-inning rally that fell short seemed their best chance. The Mariners waited until 26 of their 27 outs in this 3-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Thursday afternoon were already logged before Mike Sweeney finally delivered his team’s first run.
What followed after that, a rather-surprising full-count walk drawn by pinch-hitter Yuniesky Betancourt to load the bases, seemed to buck this team’s all-swing, no-brains approach to the past week. That Ichiro Suzuki ended the rally by grounding into a game-ending fielder’s choice mattered little for a Mariners team clinging to any sign its stagnant offense can rebound.
“Hopefully, that little semblance of offense and excitement will carry into Minnesota and we’ll right the ship,” Sweeney said.
A crowd of 32,714 at Kauffman Stadium saw the Royals score an unearned run in the third inning after an error by shortstop Ronny Cedeno. The Royals scored their only earned run in seven innings off Jarrod Washburn in the fifth, with former Mariners utility man Willie Bloomquist scoring on a single by Mike Aviles.
The Royals added an eighth-inning insurance marker off reliever Sean White that changed the complexion of the inning that followed. Kansas City closer Joakim Soria is one of the best, but the Mariners got Ichiro to the plate with the tying and go-ahead runs on base.
But in his best game of the season, with three hits, a walk, a stolen base and a running catch in right field, Ichiro could not come through again.
Sweeney said his teammates have to look at what they did right, take a deep breath and stop trying to undo a week’s worth of bad baseball with every swing.
“I think guys care so much here that each player in here is trying to carry the load on their shoulders,” Sweeney said. “We need to be able to take a step back and look at what made us successful the first month. It was everyone contributing. Everyone a little bit at a time. Hopefully, we get back to that. Guys do care. That’s why I think it snowballed the last four or five games.”
Washburn continues to ride one of the oddest hard-luck streaks in baseball. He has made 123 starts since the beginning of 2005, and his teams have scored two runs or fewer in 61 of those.
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