Missed outs, passed ball aid M's in Game 1's pivotal inning
By Wilson Alexander
KANSAS CITY -- The Royals had multiple chances to end the Mariners' four-run second inning during an 8-7 loss in the opener of Sunday's doubleheader before the inning ever started.
After Royals left-hander Danny Duffy recorded two outs to start the second inning, he faced shortstop Jean Segura with the Mariners holding a 3-0 lead. Duffy worked Segura into a 3-2 count, and on the payoff pitch, Duffy thought he threw strike three. But home-plate umpire David Rackley called a ball.
"I saw it as a strike," Duffy said. "What ensued after that wasn't a result of him because I need to continue to make pitches, but it's a tough call right there."
While facing Danny Valencia in the next at-bat, Duffy threw over to first baseman Eric Hosmer as Segura broke for second base. The Royals had their first viable chance at a third out with Segura caught in a rundown. But Segura made it back to first safely.
"It was a play where we needed to run down a little bit more," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "And Duffy was a little late getting [to first]."
After Valencia singled, the Royals had yet another chance to end the inning when Robinson Cano struck out swinging. However, the pitch, later scored as a passed ball, skipped away from catcher Drew Butera.
"That was a pitch where [Butera] was sitting way off the plate and Danny yanked it way up and in, and hit off his glove," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
The ball was close enough to Cano's bat to look like a foul tip. Cano was hesitant running to first. Butera didn't sprint after the ball as it rolled toward the Royals' dugout.
"There was some indecision there on [Butera's] part," Yost said. "We were screaming, 'Home. Home. Home.' ... He wasn't sure what it was exactly."
Cano reached safely. Segura scored from third. Five pitches later, Nelson Cruz hit a three-run home run. Suddenly, the Mariners had a 7-0 lead.
"When you give a Major League team, especially with that kind of power, four or five outs, it's going to be tough to come out of the inning unscathed," Duffy said. "Just an interesting, really unprecedented turn of events that you don't see jumbled all together very often."
Wilson Alexander is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.