If the Kansas City Royals stay in town much longer, the Seattle Mariners are going to have to expand their Hall of Fame.
Randy Johnson and Dan Wilson will be inducted today, and after the Mariners beat the Royals, 6-1, on Friday night – for the fifth time in six games this year – there are new candidates.
Blake Beavan, three starts after his return from Tacoma, is now 3-0 in those games – two of them victories over Kansas City.
Catcher John Jaso, never considered an RBI man, hit a three-run homer and picked up a fourth run with a sacrifice fly Friday.
Oh, and you’d have to consider Dustin Ackley (.360), Jesus Montero (.600) Mike Carp (.625) and Brendan Ryan (.389), too – they all padded those 2012 averages against the Royals with two more hits.
In another season of disappointment, the Royals in the past 12 days have accounted for 11 percent of the Mainers’ 45 wins this season.
“We’ve played a lot of close, tough games this season, and lately we’re winning more,” manager Eric Wedge said.
The Royals may have noticed.
Yes, Kansas City has issues. The key to salvaging any season, however, can depend upon how a team does against the worst opponents on its schedule.
Against the woeful San Diego Padres, for instance, Seattle lost five of six games. The Royals have been man-handled, and because of it the Mariners are now – at 45-57 – closer to the .500 mark than they’ve been since June 23.
Granted, they’re still 101/2 games out of third place in the four-team American League West. And, even with the Royals coughing up another 11 hits in this game, Seattle has five players on its roster batting under .200.
Still, ask a Safeco Field crowd of 14,953 whether they’d rather have seen a more typical 2-1 Mariners home game, most would have gravitated toward a contest in which two – yes, two! – players from the home team hit home runs.
With six of their past 12 games coming against the Royals, the Mariners are 8-4 in that span.
“I felt real good the first two games against Kansas City there, and the same thing the first two games here,” said Ackley, who has four hits the past two nights, half of them doubles. “It’s good to hit gaps again, to know off the bat you’ve got a hit.”
Beavan’s games since coming back from the Rainiers have include two wins against the Royals, another against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I’m pleased but not satisfied,” he said. “I want to get better each start. Tonight I had a good fastball, a lot of movement, and I had my slider. I threw two curves for wild pitches in the second inning and we shelved that pitch.
“And there’s nothing like pitching with a lead.”
Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie gave him one quickly.
One-out singles from Michael Saunders and Jesus Montero put runners at first and third base for Jaso, who may be the Mariners best situational hitter.
“You come up in a situation like that, you want to lift something to the outfield, get that first run home,” Jaso said. “That means taking pitches that wouldn’t allow you to do that.
“I was looking for something up, and got enough barrel on it to hit it out.”
Boom – Jaso’s fifth home run of the year – and Seattle and Beavan had a 3-0 lead.
An inning later, Ryan singled and scored from first when Ackley’s double went to the left-center field fence. A Saunders ground ball got Ackley to third, a Jaso fly ball got him home.
Then Carp, who was batting .132 before Thursday’s game, homered for the first time since May 20 at Colorado. It gave him five hits in the past two games, and pulled that average to .188.
Royals manager Ned Yost sang the lament of the struggling team.
“It’s hard being successful every night when you start off down four, five, six runs in the first two innings,” he said.
For just the fifth time in 49 home games, the Mariners hit two home runs. Against Kansas City, it figured – as a team, Seattle is batting .327 with 26 extra-base hits in those six games against the Royals.
A team that has often gone days without scoring more than a run or two, the Mariners are averaging just under seven a game against Kansas City.
And the Mariners have two more games with the Royals. No, that’s not drool at the lips of Seattle hitters.
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