Mariners 6, Royals 4

(Kansas City, MO) Nine more innings of wild baseball stood between the Seattle Mariners and getting out of Kansas City as quickly as possible. All kidding aside, the Kansas City Royals proved to be a thorn in the side of the Mariners, but the M’s still had a chance to take three of four from the Royals in the finale. George Kirby put together another respectable outing but the hero of the game would be the reigning AL Rookie of the Year. Julio Rodriguez was sensational for the M’s, recording five hits including one big home run late in what was a career day for J-Rod and a 6-4 win for the Mariners.

Seattle got the scoring started in the top of the 2nd. Many Mariners were hit by pitches on Thursday and the first was Jose Caballero with one out in the inning. Cade Marlowe fought his way out of a little skid with a base hit to right that sent Caballero to third with Sam Haggerty coming to the plate. He couldn’t get a run in as Haggerty popped out to second for the second out. That brought Julio Rodriguez to the plate and he recorded his second hit with a big two-out knock. J-Rod smacked a line drive to center field to score Caballero and help Seattle avoid stranding a runner at third and take a 1-0 lead. The Mariners would load the bases after Eugenio Suarez was hit by a pitch and Ty France drove a ball deep to left center, but the wind knocked it down and MJ Melendez made a nice catch to keep it just 1-0.

Things stayed pretty normal after that, but one swing changed things in the bottom of the 4th. With the bases empty and two outs, the Royals got their fourth hard hit ball of the game off of Kirby and it was a big one. Nelson Velazquez sent out to center field his seventh home run of the season and his fourth in just seven games with Kansas City. The solo blast knotted things back up at 1-1.

Seattle was able to fight back and give Kirby a little more run support later on. In the top of the 6th, Cade Marlowe drew a one out walk and then caused some havoc on the basepaths. Marlowe swiped second for his third stolen base on the year and the throw to second sailed into center field. Marlowe popped right back up and took third to put the go-ahead run 90-feet away with one out. Dominic Canzone pinch hit for Sam Haggerty but never took the bat off his shoulder as he walked on four pitches to put another runner on for Julio. An absolute screaming line drive off the bat of Rodriguez went out to left field where MJ Melendez misread the ball and it sailed over his head. Marlowe trotted home and Canzone was waved home despite getting a bad jump from first and the Royals were able to get Canzone at the plate for the second out. Julio recorded his 29th double of the season and advanced to third on the play at the plate while giving the Mariners a 2-1 lead.

Going into the bottom of the 6th with a one-run lead, Seattle had a defensive mistake that would end up costing them. An error by Jose Caballero put the speedy Maikel Garcia on base to begin the inning with Bobby Witt Jr. coming to the plate. After holding Witt hitless in Wednesday night’s game, the M’s weren’t as fortunate on this day. Witt lined a ball to the wall in left field. Marlowe got it in quickly to Caballero who threw a strike to the plate to get Garcia out at the plate to preserve the one-run lead. Witt did reach third on the play at the plate and with one out, George Kirby was still in a tough position. Michael Massey would get to Kirby and tie things up at 2-2 with a base hit to left to score Witt. A single by Nelson Velazquez moved Massey to third to put runners at the corners with one out. MJ Melendez had a pretty strong series and came up with a big hit in this situation. Melendez kept a grounder fair into left field to give Kansas City the lead. Melendez reached second with his 24th double of the season as Velazquez got to third and Massey scored with the Royals leading 3-2. Freddy Fermin would follow with a fly ball to center field that would be caught by Julio Rodriguez. Velazquez would tag and score while the throw came into third to get Melendez trying to move up to end the inning. A rough inning for the Mariners was finally over, but they found themselves trailing 4-2.

It felt like Seattle was dead in the water after a quiet 7th inning but a pulse was detected in the top of the 8th. Former Texas Ranger, Taylor O’Hearn took over on the mound for the Royals and struck out Jose Caballero for a quick first out. Cade Marlowe followed that by yanking a line drive down the right field line for extras bases. Marlowe reached second with his third double of the year to bring up Dominic Canzone. Canzone drew his second walk of the day to put runners on first and second with Julio Rodriguez coming to the plate, representing the go-ahead run. Kansas City would make a pitching change and brought in Carlos Hernandez to face J-Rod. It only took one pitch to decide the battle as a fastball up and in wasn’t enough to beat Julio. The ball was barreled up with an exit velocity of 110.5-mph and sailed 438-feet for a mammoth three-run home run. The 20th home run of Julio’s second season was the biggest one of his season as the Mariners were back in front 5-4.

Trent Thornton pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the 8th and Seattle had one last opportunity to add some insurance. Cal Raleigh entered the game to pinch hit for new backup catcher Brian O’Keefe and gave flashbacks to the drought ender. Cal dropped the barrel on a fastball down and in and sent his team-high 22nd home run of the season out to right field. The solo blast felt important as Seattle had a little bit of breathing room going into the bottom of the 9th with a 6-4 lead.

Matt Brash was on to pitch the final frame of this series. For the first time in the series, Seattle got an easy bottom of the 9th. Brash struck out Nelson Velazquez to begin the inning and then got a flyout to center by MJ Melendez to put the M’s one out away from a series win. That out came off the bat of Freddy Fermin as Jose Caballero handled a routine grounder at shortstop and threw out Fermin to end the game and the series with the Mariners outlasting the Royals 6-4.

With a very stressful and chaotic four game series in Kansas City now in the rearview mirror, the Seattle Mariners (66-55) sit just 1/2 game behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL Wild Card race. Seattle will also play a team ahead of them in the Wild Card race and AL West race as they visit the Houston Astros (70-52) for a three-game series beginning on Friday at 5:10pm. Bryce Miller (7-4, 4.04 ERA) will face the Astros for the first time since he made his T-Mobile Park debut back in May. In that outing, Miller threw six scoreless innings of two-hit ball while walking one and striking out five in a 3-1 win. Another rookie pitcher who was very impressive in that series will start for Houston as J.P. France (9-3, 2.74 ERA) starts in the opener. France has also been one of the best rookie pitchers in baseball this season and in his start against the M’s back in May, went five scoreless innings of three-hit ball while also walking one and striking out five. While Seattle has historically struggled with Houston, they currently have a record of 5-2 against the defending World Series champions this season.

Matt’s Takeaways

For as frustrating as a series this was, we need to look at the positives. The M’s ended up taking care of business and winning three of four and will take a three-game winning streak into Houston. Julio Rodriguez looks like he is all the way back as he looks much more relaxed. Instead of me talking about it, I have included a video breakdown by MLB Central’s Mark DeRosa on the changes Julio has made down below. The pitching was actually the weak spot of the M’s in this series and we know that won’t continue. If both the offense and pitching can click at the same time, Seattle still has time to make a run at the AL West.

Notable Performances


  • Julio Rodriguez- 5-5, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, R
  • Cade Marlowe- 2-3, 2B, SB, 2 R
  • George Kirby (ND)- 6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO


  • Nelson Velazquez- 2-4, HR, RBI, 2 R
  • MJ Melendez- 2-4, 2B, RBI
  • Angel Zerpa (ND)- 4 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO



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