Mariners' bats raking in victories against KC

Mariners' bats raking in victories against KC

Mariners' bats raking in victories against KC
KANSAS CITY -- It wasn't just that the Mariners put together their first two-game winning streak in a month with a 9-6 win over the Royals on Tuesday, it was the way Seattle posted back-to-back wins that opened eyes.

For a second straight night, the Mariners knocked the Royals starting pitcher out in the second inning and proceeded to put up nine runs, with home runs by Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders highlighting a seven extra-base hit night for the American League's second-lowest scoring team.

"We've been more consistent on the road obviously than we have been at home," manager Eric Wedge said. "We've got a couple guys that are ramping in the right direction right now. It's been a nice group performance for us here the last couple nights offensively."

This time it was Kansas City left-hander Ryan Verdugo who was the early victim, lasting just 1 2/3 innings in his Major League debut while surrendering six runs on eight hits. On Monday, veteran Jonathan Sanchez got just four outs before departing -- and ultimately designated for assignment -- following an early seven-run barrage.

Smoak did damage in the first inning again, duplicating his Monday effort with a two-run blast. Saunders hit a two-run shot in the fifth, giving Seattle five home runs in the series first two games, as the Mariners improved to 22-26 on the road and 39-53 overall.

"It was good," Smoak said of the quick attack. "It puts us on the board early and, as you can tell, those guys are swinging the bats well, too, so we're going to have to score some runs. I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit and I got a fastball middle-in and thank God it stayed fair."

Right-hander Blake Beavan took advantage of the offensive help, picking up the win after being recalled from Triple-A Tacoma earlier on Tuesday to replace injured starter Erasmo Ramirez.

Beavan raised his record to 4-6 with a 6.06 ERA -- giving up seven hits and five runs in six-plus innings, with zero walks and three strikeouts.

"It was hot out there, but you deal with what you've got," Beavan said after surviving the 98-degree evening. "I felt good for my first start back. Besides the third inning I felt like I made a lot of good pitches tonight. My goal was to keep us in the game and I thought I did a good job of that."

After Beavan's departure, Charlie Furbush got one out in the seventh before leaving with tightness in his left triceps. But the reliever said he went in a cage under the stadium and threw 12-15 pitches after coming out and everything was fine, so the injury isn't believed to be significant.

Kansas City then closed the gap with a two-run home run by Lorenzo Cain off Shawn Kelley before rookie Lucas Luetge stemmed the tide by getting five straight outs to end the seventh and eighth.

"I had visions of Charlie facing five or six hitters, so that didn't work out the way I'd hoped," Wedge said. "But Lucas really stepped up for us with the big double-play ball and then running through those guys in the eighth."

Tom Wilhelmsen pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save. But the story of this one was the improved Mariners' offense for a second straight game as every batter recorded at least one hit in a 14-hit effort.

And again the Mariners wasted little time in jumping to a 3-0 lead before the Royals came to bat. Seattle has scored eight first-inning runs in two nights after totaling 41 in their first 90 games.

Smoak raised his team-leading home run total to 13 and he's now second on the club in RBIs with 38. His confidence is growing along with his production the last few days.

"No doubt," said the big first baseman. "But you have to keep it going. That's where I'm at right now. I just have to stay confident up there, keep grinding out at-bats and just keeping having fun out there."

Designated hitter Jesus Montero went 3-for-4 with a double, a walk and two RBIs. The rookie had one RBI in his previous 29 games since June 1, but doubled that in the first two innings as he followed a run-scoring double in the first with an RBI single in the second.

"I've had a little struggle for a couple weeks. It was getting crazy," said Montero. "But I just tried to do my work and routines and now I'm feeling better at the plate. I'm seeing better pitches and I don't swing at those bad pitches, so the results are a lot better."

Kyle Seager ended Verdugo's debut with a two-run double with the bases loaded that opened the lead to 6-0 with two out in the second.

"Everyone's going to have one of those outings, it just kind of sucked that it was the first one," said Verdugo, a native of Lake Stevens, Wash. "I just need to slow things down a little bit more, kind of step off the mound here and there maybe a few more times. I've got a lot of things to work on, but tomorrow's a new day."

The Mariners are hoping Wednesday is a lot like the past two days, however, in terms of their run production.

"When you set the early like that and give yourself a little breathing room, it allows our young players to go out and relax and play and work to their true abilities a little easier," Wedge said. "We've had some guys who've been struggling here and working to find it, so it's been nice to see them put some consistent days together."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.