By Andrew Erickson and Jeffrey Flanagan
SEATTLE -- Royals right-hander Joe Blanton, making another spot start in the injury-riddled rotation, overmatched the Mariners through six-plus innings, and Alcides Escobar delivered three hits as the Royals held off the Mariners, 4-1, on Monday night at Safeco Field.
Blanton, who came out of retirement this season, made his second straight strong start. He beat Milwaukee last Wednesday, going five innings and giving up just one run. This time he was phenomenal -- he faced one over the minimum in six innings before exiting when he gave up a leadoff double in the seventh.
"Any time you can go six innings and not have to work out of the stretch, I'd say you have accomplished something," said Royals manager Ned Yost.
Blanton struck out seven and walked none, also giving up a solo homer to Robinson Cano in the first. He is just one of several veterans who general manager Dayton Moore signed to provide pitching depth.
"We have talked about it before but it's another example of Dayton having the vision and foresight to give Joe Blanton a chance, Ryan Madson a chance, Chris Young, and Franklin Morales," Yost said. "[We] don't know where we'd be without them.
"We've got a tough [nine-game] road trip here. Nice way to start it off."
"Felix pitched great tonight. They weren't hitting hard balls, just ground balls and a couple of bloopers," Cano said. "That's the game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Cano goes deep: With two outs in the bottom of the first inning, Cano launched a 91-mph sinker from Blanton on the outer half of the plate into the seats beyond the center-field wall for just his second home run since April 14. The blast was tracked by Statcast™ at 424 feet with an exit velocity of 106 mph and gave Seattle an early 1-0 lead. After Cano's homer, Blanton retired the next 16 Mariners he faced.
Pesky Esky: Escobar was particularly annoying to Hernandez. He singled and scored in the third, then singled again in the fifth. Then he came through with a clutch two-out RBI single up the middle to plate Jarrod Dyson in the seventh. That put the Royals up 4-1 and led to Hernandez being pulled from the game. More >
"That was a big run to give us a little cushion," Yost said.
The "other" Moose:Mike Moustakas wasn't the only active Moose at Safeco Field. While the Mariners' mascot watched, Moustakas slammed a double off the right-field wall in the third inning that put the Royals up 3-1. Moustakas also singled in the fifth. He came into the game just 1-for-6 in his career off Hernandez.
Cruz exits: After going 0-for-2 in his first two at-bats, Mariners right fielder Nelson Cruz left Monday night's ballgame with a pelvic bone injury. Dustin Ackley, who pinch-hit in Cruz's spot with one out in the bottom of the seventh, worked a full count against Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera, but struck out on a 100-mph fastball for the second out of the inning. Third baseman Kyle Seager then lined out to left to strand Austin Jackson at third. More >
"You can say anything about anybody, him or anybody else. But one thing I can say is that we play better when we face an ace. Why that is I don't know." -- Cano, on the Mariners' struggles against Blanton
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie takes the hill for the Royals in a 9:10 p.m. CT start. Guthrie (5-4, 5.55 ERA) is coming off a 3-2 win over the Brewers last Thursday in which he gave up two runs and seven hits over six innings. Removing his disastrous 11-run outing against the Yankees on May 25, Guthrie has a 2.61 ERA over his last seven starts.
Mariners: Lefty Mike Montgomery (1-2, 2.73 ERA) will make his fifth Major League start at 7:10 p.m. PT against the team that drafted him 36th overall in 2008. The 25-year-old has not allowed more than four runs in any of his starts this season, but looks to bounce back from a Thursday loss to the Giants in which he gave up four runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings of work against the defending World Series champions.
Andrew Erickson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.