SEATTLE – The first run was manufactured, the result of Whit Merrifield’s leadoff double and his aggression on the base paths thereafter.
Kansas City’s next two runs required less creativity. Third baseman Mike Moustakas hit a long, solo home run to right field in the second inning. Left fielder Alex Gordon – despite breaking his bat upon contact – hit one over the right-field fence in the fifth.
That was all they needed to beat the Mariners, 3-1, before a crowd of 35,789 on Monday night at Safeco Field, spoiling a more-than-good-enough start by 23-year-old rookie Andrew Moore, who, despite his first big-league loss, lasted eight innings and allowed only five hits.
Royals starter Ian Kennedy, though, was a little more effective, holding the Mariners to a single run on four hits in 6 2/3 innings to earn the victory.
The Mariners scored their only run in the second inning, when a bases-loaded wild pitch by Kennedy allowed Kyle Seager to score from third base. But Kennedy avoided further damage by striking out Mike Zunino and Boog Powell to end the inning.
In fact, Kennedy avoided further damage for the rest of his time on the mound, keeping the Mariners off-balance with a sharp curveball that helped him rack up seven strikeouts. After they loaded the bases in the second, the Mariners didn’t advance a runner to second base until the seventh, when another wild pitch allowed first baseman Danny Valencia – he had three of his team’s four hits – to move from first to second with one out.
One batter later, Kennedy gave way to right-handed reliever Peter Moylan, summoned from the bullpen to face pinch-hitting Nelson Cruz. Moylan struck Cruz out on three pitches, and Valencia was stranded at second base.
Moylan, Neftali Feliz and Joakim Soria combined to retire the Mariners in order in the eighth and ninth innings.
Merrifield, Kansas City’s speedy right fielder, helped the Royals take an early lead. He led off the game with a double, moved to third base on a flyout to shallow center field, then scored on Lorenzo Cain’s sacrifice fly to right field when Mitch Haniger’s throw to the plate flew over the head of Mariners catcher Mike Zunino (Merrifield would have beaten it, anyway).
Moustakas’ blast, his 23rd of the season, came on a 1-1 fastball leading off the second inning. Gordon’s homer, his fifth, was a rare, broken-bat job that barely cleared the wall – and Haniger’s leaping attempt at robbery – in right field.
Other than that, Moore was fantastic. He retired 21 of the final 23 batters he faced, struck out four and didn’t walk anybody. Despite the loss, he became only the third pitcher in franchise history to last seven or more innings in each of his first two Major League starts, joining Erik Hanson (September 1988) and Enrique Romo (1977).
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