At the beginning of this game, it looked like nobody told the Royals the All-Star break didn’t start until after the game was over. Facing one of their former top prospects, the Royals were able to muster just one run on five hits as Mike Montgomery ran his scoreless streak against his former organization to 16.1 innings. The run he allowed in the seventh ended the streak and his day. Once the Mariners bullpen came on, the offense came alive, which made this a ballgame, but it wasn’t enough to avoid an 8-5 loss in the series finale.
There were actually quite a few positives in a game that didn’t look like there would be many early on. In the third inning, Alex Gordon crushed a ball off the center field wall for a double. It was one of the better swings he’s had all year. It took awhile, but the late inning offense was nice to see. Brett Eibner’s home run off Montgomery was absolutely mashed into the left field bullpen. We saw another RBI from Eibner on a single in the eighth, a double and a sac fly from Cuthbert and then a long home run off the bat of Alex Gordon in the ninth inning to bring the game to within three runs. You hate to look for moral victories, but there were a few in this one.
On the pitching side for the Royals, Dillon Gee made the start in place of Chris Young, and gave up two in the first inning, part of that was due to an error on Gee. With Seth Smith on first after a fielder’s choice, Robinson Cano hit a dribbler in front of the mound. Gee pounced quickly, but couldn’t get in a good throwing position and threw the ball to Paulo Orlando in center field rather than the covering Alcides Escobar. With runners on first and third, Gee hit Nelson Cruz before giving up a two-RBI single to Kyle Seager, who drove in five runs over the last two days.
The Mariners third run scored in the fourth. The Mariners took a page out of the Royals playbook and got a rally started with nobody on and two out. Gee gave up two singles before giving way to Brian Flynn who allowed an inherited run to score on a bunt single by Marte, who was a pest all weekend.
Gee was okay. Flynn was very good. Brooks Pounders, on the other hand, was not. He came in to start the seventh inning with the game still in reach and made sure the Royals would have a bad taste in their mouth to think about over the next four days off. He gave up a walk to start the inning and then a two-run homer to Cano. Nelson Cruz hit a pop up that Whit Merrifield lost in the season. Then came a single from Seager, followed by an absolute bomb from Adam Lind.
Chien-Ming Wang was called upon for the eighth and made it through his inning scoreless. Chris Young was given the ninth, and he made it through the inning without allowing a home run (or a base runner), which is a pretty big victory for the team.
The good news of the day is that the White Sox, Tigers and Indians all lost, so no harm, no foul.
Perez Hits Second
For the first time in his career, Salvador Perez hit second. I think the lineup was due to a lefty being on the mound, but it was interesting. He’s a hot hitter and the Royals don’t have many of those, so Yost tried something a little different in this one. With Lorenzo Cain’s return still expected very soon after the break, I’m not sure I’d get used to it, but it was certainly something interesting to see when the lineups came out on Sunday morning. Perez went 2 for 5, if you were wondering, but struck out to end the game.
I still have my questions about Eibner’s ability to hit off speed stuff, but he’s hit .316/.381/.684 in eight games since Cain went on the disabled list. That comes with a double, two home runs and three runs batted in. With Orlando coming back to Earth in a big way, hitting .273/.303/.338 since May 24 when he ended the day with a .406 season average, I believe the Royals should at least see what they have in Eibner over the next few weeks. That will help determine whether they need to hit the trade market or can count on one of their own to help take them to the end of the season and maybe beyond.
Four days off for most of the players. Ned Yost and his coaching staff will be headed to San Diego along with Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer and Kelvin Herrera. After the break, the Royals will head to Detroit to take on the Tigers. Ian Kennedy will make the start against Justin Verlander. The other probables in that series are Danny Duffy vs. Mike Pelfrey on Saturday and Yordano Ventura vs. Michael Fulmer. We’ll have the preview for that series up on Friday.