For the short term — maybe until the plane ride out of town — the Seattle Mariners might be a little grouchy about dropping another home game.
The reigning World Series champion Kansas City Royals responded like a squad desperate not to be blanked on the West Coast — and they handed the Mariners a well-played, 4-1 loss Sunday in front of 37,053 at Safeco Field.
But the bigger picture — one day into May — is that the Mariners are more quietly optimistic than visibly disappointed about the way they are playing. The loss did not prevent them from leaving town with their fifth consecutive series win.
They have a chance to match the six series victories from the 2011 season when they travel to Oakland for a three-game series starting Monday.
“I like our club. I like the way it is coming together,” first-year Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “We are winning. We are learning how to win. Even on the days we come up a little short, we have opportunities.”
Kansas City starting pitcher Ian Kennedy, who had a shutout into the sixth inning, was a bit sharper than Taijuan Walker, who gave up three runs — two earned — in five laborious innings of work.
Walker said the big at-bat was when he hit Alex Gordon with a 95 mph fastball with two outs and nobody on in the second inning.
Two batters later, Omar Infante’s RBI single to shallow right center gave the Royals a 1-0 lead, ending their scoreless inning streak at 27.
Of the Royals’ first four hits, only Alcides Escobar’s right-field double to open the third inning was crisply hit.
“I felt like I got a little unlucky,” Walker said. “That is baseball. Stuff just falls their way, and I am sure we will have games like that.”
Walker left trailing 3-0 after shortstop Ketel Marte’s two-out throwing error allowed Lorenzo Cain to score in the fifth inning.
The Mariners had one big opportunity in the sixth inning, loading the bases with no outs.
Kansas City manager Ned Yost brought in left-hander Danny Duffy, a third-round selection in the 2007 draft who was once considered a front-line starter in the rotation.
Instead, he now comes out of the Royals’ bullpen, and he kept the Mariners at bay by pumping fastballs reaching 97-98 mph.
Pinch hitter Dae-Ho Lee struck out on four pitches — the last swinging on an elevated fastball.
“It’s pretty self-explanatory — I went for the punch out,” Duffy said. “My fastball was really good today. I think I threw … one off-speed pitch.”
And that was an 85-mph curve ball that sent Kyle Seager back to the dugout for the second out.
Chris Iannetta did hit an RBI single to right field in the next at-bat, but the Royals got out of the inning when outfielder Jarrod Dyson easily threw out Robinson Cano at home plate.
“It was a big point in the game,” Servais said. “It would have been a big run.”
Cano came up with two outs in the seventh inning as the tying run, but his deep drive to center field came up short of the wall by 10 feet.
The Mariners are 11-5 in their past 16 games and are right on the heels of AL West-leading Texas.
“All in all, you win the series, and that is kind of what you are hoping to do,” Seager said.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Dyson gunned down Cano at home plate to end the sixth inning as Kansas City got out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam by allowing just one run.
PLUS: Seattle won its fifth consecutive series and will go for a sixth starting Monday in Oakland. … Outfielder Seth Smith has hit safely in 12 of his past 14 games. He is hitting .348 during that span. … Seattle hitters took three more walks and finished the series with 18 in three games.
MINUS: The five-inning outing by Walker was his shortest of the season. He said his off-speed command was off. … Marte’s throwing error in the fifth inning allowed an unearned run. It was his fourth error of the season — and first since April 21.
QUOTABLE: “You are not going to get it done every day, but you keep putting pressure and creating opportunities. That is what excites me about our club — we don’t back off and we don’t give in.” — Servais.