By Jeffrey Flanagan and Scott Chasen
MLB.com |@FlannyMLB |
KANSAS CITY -- Mariners left-hander Mike Montgomery simply owns his former club.
Montgomery, a supplemental first-round Draft pick of the Royals in 2008, threw a shutout last year in his only previous career start against them. Montgomery continued his mastery by tossing 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball in an 8-5 win on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.
Montgomery, who was part of the Royals' trade to acquire James Shields and Wade Davis from the Rays in 2012, made his first start of 2016 one to remember. Montgomery, acquired by the Mariners from the Rays in March of 2015, gave up five hits while walking none and striking out three.
"He's just a good pitcher," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We were looking at his stuff today before the game and I don't think anyone has gotten a hit off his curveball in over a month. He's got a good curveball and a good downhill fastball. He's starting to figure out things out."
Robinson Cano hit a two-run homer, his 21st, for the Mariners, while Adam Lind added a three-run shot, his 13th, in a five-run seventh.
Right-hander Dillon Gee started for the Royals and lasted 84 pitches and 3 2/3 innings. He gave up three runs, two of them earned. Rookie Brett Eibner hit his third home run, a solo shot, and Alex Gordon hit his sixth, also a solo shot.
"Overall, I thought I threw fairly well, but threw too many pitches," Gee said.
Eibner thought Montgomery's cutter was his best pitch.
"He'd been pounding me inside with a lot of cutters so I just made a little adjustment," Eibner said. "Then I got a pitch I could handle."
The Royals limped into the All-Star break at 45-43 and seven games behind the American League Central-leading Indians. The Mariners are 45-44 and 8 1/2 games back of the AL West-leading Rangers.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Sizzling Seager:Kyle Seager entered the game on a 12-game hitting streak with an OPS of just under 1.400 in nine games in July. In the first inning, he put the Mariners ahead with a two-run single to right field. The hit marked his fifth game this month with multiple RBIs, and he followed it up nicely on the defensive end later in the inning, robbing Royals leadoff man Whit Merrifield of a hit with a smooth diving stop and throw to first.
Seager's glove was huge at several points in the game, which led to a tongue-in-cheek exchange between the third baseman and his starting pitcher.
"[After a catch] he said, 'Hey, that's all you're going to get. Let them hit it somewhere else," Montgomery said. "'I said, 'Hey, I'm making you work today.'"
Time for some PFP?: There's a reason teams go through pitchers' fielding practice so hard in Spring Training and during the season on occasion. Gee cost himself two runs in the first when he threw a potential double-play grounder by Cano into center field. The double play could have ended the inning without any runs scoring. In the fourth, Flynn tried to field a bunt by Ketel Marte with two out and runners on first and third. Flynn was late getting the ball out of his glove and Marte beat his throw to first, allowing the third run to score. Flynn would have been better off bare-handing the pickup.
"We kind of made our own mess in the first," Yost said.
Gee said he had to slow down his throw, which caused an errant throw.
"I kind of got off-guard when the umpire was moving to get into position," Gee said. "I slowed up a little and then it kind of sailed on me. A costly mistake."
Mock Home Run Derby: As he prepares for his fourth career T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday, Cano certainly looked the part in the series finale. Filling in at DH, Cano crushed a two-run shot to right off Royals reliever Brooks Pounders in the seventh inning. The homer, which put the Mariners up 5-0, was Cano's 21st. It traveled 409 feet with an exit velocity of 111 mph, according to Statcast™. The Mariners added to the lead later in the inning with Lind's three-run jack to right.
"It wasn't just one guy," manager Scott Servais said of his offense. "Everybody chipped in."
Double play frustrations: One main reason the Royals' offense has seemed so stagnant lately is the team's penchant for hitting into double plays. The Royals killed two more potential rallies on Sunday with double-play balls, one by Paulo Orlando in the second and one by Eibner in the fourth. That gives the Royals 11 double plays in the last six games. They are third in the league having hit into 79 double plays.
"I think everybody is physically ready for a little bit of a break. As hot as it was today, I think a couple days off sounds pretty good." -- Seager, who welcomes the All-Star break despite his hitting streak
WHAT'S NEXT Mariners: Left-hander James Paxton (2-3, 3.91 ERA) will get the ball for the Mariners on Friday at 7:10 p.m. PT when they take on the Astros at Safeco Field. PT. Paxton went eight innings in his last start against the Royals, giving up two earned runs. It was the second time he'd gone eight innings in his career with the Mariners.
Royals: Right-hander Ian Kennedy (6-7, 3.97) will start the first game after the All-Star break on Friday at 6:08 p.m. CT against the Tigers at Comerica Park. Kennedy went six innings in his last start against the Blue Jays, giving up two runs and, for the seventh straight game, a home run.