View Full Version : And the beat goes on

07-06-2010, 12:16 PM
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com

07/06/10 3:30 AM ET
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SEATTLE -- It ain't over till it's over where the Royals are concerned. Two outs, nobody on? No big deal.

That was the last-stand formula used successfully again by the Royals on Monday night as they surged from behind and defeated the Seattle Mariners in 10 innings, 6-4, in front of 22,617 fans at chilly Safeco Field.

It was the Royals' eighth victory in 11 games. It also marked the 30th time they've scored in an inning after having the bases empty with two outs.

"That's a huge number," said Royals manager Ned Yost.

The latest example unfolded in the 10th after a baserunning blunder. Alberto Callaspo walked, missed a bunt sign and was thrown out easily at second base. Mike Aviles grounded into the second out.

"We never give up," the Royals' David DeJesus said. "Even when two outs come around, we hear Ned saying, 'We'll get him, we'll get him.' I think it just rubs off on a team."

This time Mitch Maier was listening. He ripped a triple into the right-center field gap.

"Just because there's two outs, I'm not going to pack my bags and go home," Maier said.

Up came Yuniesky Betancourt, and he was on a mission. In the eighth inning, just after the Royals tied the score at 4, he came up with the bases loaded and rolled out.

"I didn't want to go down again," Betancourt said. "It really gave me a lot of motivation."

Betancourt ripped a single into left field for a 5-4 edge. For good measure, Scott Podsednik dropped an RBI single into left field for a two-run lead. Closer Joakim Soria dodged past two Mariners runners in the bottom of the 10th to get his 23rd save.

That gave the Royals a 6-2 record in extra-inning games including 5-1 on the road. The Mariners are 1-8 in extras and, strangely enough, 1-5 at home.

The Mariners looked in good shape after Russell Branyan belted a homer to conclude a three-run inning against Royals starter Brian Bannister. That gave Mariners ace Felix Hernandez a 4-1 lead.

"I give a lot of credit to the offense, because Felix had come into this game with three straight complete games," Bannister said. "He's pitching well, and even though it was still the seventh, they got him out of there and gave us a chance with the bullpen."

The Royals were driving up Hernandez's pitch count. DeJesus' walk and Billy Butler's RBI double cut the lead to 4-2 in the sixth.

"This is a good-hitting ballclub, obviously," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "They kind of wear you out through attrition. That was a big thing with Felix in the sixth inning, with them getting 20-plus pitches so he wasn't in for the eighth. They put a lot of pressure on the pitcher."

After seven innings, Hernandez had thrown 112 pitches and was taken out.

"He was pretty nasty today and everybody knows the caliber of pitcher he is and, so yeah, we were glad to get into that bullpen and give ourselves a better shot," Betancourt said.

Reliever Brandon League was targeted in the eighth with this barrage: Singles by Jason Kendall and DeJesus, Butler's sacrifice fly and singles by Jose Guillen and Callaspo. Two runs were in, and it was 4-4. After the Royals loaded the bases, Betancourt made an out, kindling a fire for his next chance.

The Royals had better luck with their bullpen after Bannister worked seven innings. Robinson Tejeda wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam with one out in the eighth. Kyle Farnsworth pitched a perfect ninth for the win. And Soria closed it out.

The Royals, after five straight losses, have notched an 8-3 mark starting at Washington with a win over rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg. They've also managed to hang losses on such accomplished pitchers as St. Louis' Jaime Garcia, Chicago's Mark Buehrle and Jake Peavy and Los Angeles' Ervin Santana in that stretch.

Impressive stuff.

"We've been joking," Bannister said. "We were getting drug tests every night. The Royals have been over .500 for a good stretch, and now we're getting drug tests every night."

Those were routine drug enforcement tests by Major League Baseball, but when you're winning, almost anything can prompt a joke.

"This team has been a lot of fun lately," Bannister said.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

07-06-2010, 12:22 PM
The Royals have won 8 of their last 11, and are looking pretty good right now. 14 hits in last night's game, and the bullpen keeps throwing zero's on the scoreboard. Momentum? Maybe....could be too early to tell, but Greinke appears to have snapped out of his funk, and Chen is doing an admirable job filling in for Meche.

Stay tuned.....

07-08-2010, 12:32 PM
Seattle sweep!

By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com

07/08/10 2:59 AM ET
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SEATTLE -- Alberto Callaspo couldn't get a bunt down. Never mind -- he hit a three-run homer instead.

The Royals should fail so fortuitously more often.

Callaspo's eighth-inning shot boosted the Royals to a three-game sweep over the Seattle Mariners, 7-3, taking the wind out of 16,954 fans at Safeco Field. It was Kansas City's first sweep in Seattle since 1995, as well as the Royals' 10th victory in 13 games and made them 5-1 on this trip.

"If you go on a nine-game road trip, this is the way you want it to start," said Mitch Maier, who hit one of three Royals homers in the final two innings. "Now let's go finish strong in Chicago and it'll be good."

The Mariners were up, 3-2, heading into the eighth inning. Reliever Brandon League, just into the game, began by walking both David DeJesus and Billy Butler.

Up came Callaspo with the bunt sign flashing.

"I was trying to move the runners when we were trying to tie the game," Callaspo said.

Manager Ned Yost knew it was the right thing to do, although he was a bit reticent.

"I'm not really wanting to bunt off League -- he throws hard and he's tough to bunt off of, but you've got to try to get the winning run to second base somehow," Yost said.

The count went to 3-1 and the bunt stayed on.

"The bunt was on until all the way until the end of the at-bat," Yost said. "I debated on 3-1 to have him bunt. I really didn't want him bunting there, but I still wanted him squaring. And he kind of fouled it off, and then I took it off and he hammered it."

Did he ever. Callaspo crashed a three-run homer into the right-field seats for a 5-3 Royals lead. It was Callaspo's eighth home run, but the first in his past 152 at-bats -- or since May 20 at Cleveland.

"Ky-O put a sweet swing on it," Yost said.

It was the ill-fated League who gave up four hits and two runs in a dismal outing that helped the Royals win Monday night's series opener.

"It was worse this time," League said. "I didn't even put the ball in play tonight. I couldn't find the strike zone at all. I walked two guys, and when I did find the strike zone, he hit it out of the park."

After League was pulled, Maier also reached the right-field stands off successor Garrett Olson. But the Royals' sluggers weren't quite finished.

With two outs in the ninth, Butler hit a drive off Chad Cordero to right field that went over Ichiro Suzuki, jetted up off the wall and back onto the field. Umpire Paul Nauert signaled a double.

Wait a minute, said Yost.

"The ball disappeared," Yost said. "The ball went over the fence and came right back, and I thought it bounced off the screen there. But there's a concrete ledge or something there that Paul said it hit and bounced back over. But I thought it was definitely a home run."

The umpires conferred, went to view a replay and quickly signaled a home run. Butler had his ninth this season and the Royals had a 7-3 lead.

"They got it right and that's the positive thing about having a replay," Butler said. "A couple of years ago when they didn't have replay, it'd been a double."

Butler's sacrifice fly put the Royals ahead, 1-0, in the first inning, but then the Mariners' Casey Kotchman went to work on starter Kyle Davies. Kotchman ripped a solo home run in the second inning for a tie and put the Mariners ahead, 3-1, with a two-run blast after a walk in the sixth.

"Kyle actually threw the ball really, really well tonight, but Kotchman was all over him," Yost said.

In the Royals' seventh, Yuniesky Betancourt doubled and ultimately scored on a wild pitch to make it a one-run game.

"We won that game in about nine different ways tonight," Yost said.

The defensive pluses included two diving catches in center field by Maier and a diving stop at third by Callaspo.

The bullpen was prominent. Winning pitcher Victor Marte got a scoreless seventh inning despite what could have been a costly error by Betancourt. Kyle Farnsworth struck out the side in the eighth. And when Farnsworth got into two-on, no-out trouble in the ninth, closer Joakim Soria rode to the rescue.

"I wasn't going to use him in a non-save situation," Yost said. "Farnsy came out and was unhittable in the eighth. I told him if we got one more run, he was going back out. But anytime there's a save situation, Jack's coming in."

Soria got three successive outs for his 25th save and his 18th in a row. And the Royals got their first sweep in Seattle since June 12-14, 1995.

Can't resist: That's a long time to go sweepless in Seattle.

Giddy times were spilling over in the visitors' victorious clubhouse at Safeco. There was a surreal and laugh-producing appearance by "Shaving Cream Man."

Pitcher Anthony Lerew, swathed from head to toe in blinding white shaving cream, glided happily through the room.

"I haven't been able to break him out here yet," Lerew said. "But three in a row deserves a little 'Shaving Cream Man.'"

Why not.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.