MLB: Mariners aim to shake off collapse against Royals

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No lead is safe for the Seattle Mariners when they play in Kansas City.

The Royals rallied from an eight-run deficit to beat the Mariners 10-9 on Friday. Bobby Witt Jr. hit a game-tying triple with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning and then scored the winning run on Nelson Velazquez’s fielder’s choice after the Mariners intentionally walked the bases loaded.

The teams will continue their three-game series on Saturday.

“It was a crazy game,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We played that game here a few times.”

On Sept. 25, 2022, as the Mariners were attempting to snap a 20-year postseason drought, they coughed up a nine-run lead at Kauffman Stadium in a 13-12 defeat. Still, they made the playoffs.

This time, the American League West-leading Mariners scored seven runs in the first inning, capped by Ryan Bliss’ first major league home run, and led 8-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth.

“You’ve got to give (the Royals) a ton of credit,” Servais said. “They kept putting pressure on us and creating opportunities and they finally broke through.

“We’ve got to let it go. We’ve got a good team and we’re in a good spot. Our offense did a lot of good things (Friday) and we’ll build on that. I like our chances if we come out and score nine runs (Saturday).”

MJ Melendez hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth to spark the Royals’ comeback.

“I feel like we’re never really out of any game,” Melendez said. “Even though we got down early, we gave ourselves time to come back.”

With the hosts trailing 9-7, Nick Loftin drew a leadoff walk in the ninth off Mariners reliever Ryne Stanek, and Garrett Hampson reached on an infield single to third, with Josh Rojas’ errant throw allowing the runners to advance to second and third. Maikel Garcia grounded out to short to pull the Royals within a run before Witt tripled to left on a two-strike pitch to tie the score.

The Mariners intentionally walked Vinnie Pasquantino and Salvador Perez to load the bases for Velazquez, who hit a hard one-hopper to shortstop. J.P. Crawford made a diving stop, but Seattle was unable to turn a double play.

“Just put the ball in play and something good can happen,” Velazquez said. “We stand together the whole game, no matter what. We still play hard for 27 outs.”

Witt went 3-for-5 and extended his hitting streak to eight games.

“We’re never out of a game,” Witt said. “With this team we have, you’ve just got to do your part and the next guy’s going to do his part. That’s how resilient we are.”

Though Stanek took the loss, Mariners starter Bryce Miller shouldered the blame after yielding seven runs in five-plus innings.

“That should have never been a game,” Miller said. “After we scored seven, I’ve got to do my part and I didn’t.”

The blown lead overshadowed Bliss’ milestone homer.

“It’s definitely a moment I’ll never forget,” Bliss said. “But baseball happened and we didn’t come out with the win.”

Mariners right-hander Luis Castillo (5-6, 2.99 ERA) is scheduled to go against Royals righty Alec Marsh (4-3, 3.76) on Saturday.

Castillo is 2-1 with a 3.28 ERA in six career starts against the Royals. He hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in his past 10 outings, going 5-3 with a 2.01 ERA during that span.

Marsh is 0-2 with a 2.87 ERA in three previous appearances versus the Mariners, including two starts. He lost at Seattle on May 15 after giving up two runs (one earned) in five innings.

Marsh struggled in his past two outings, allowing 10 runs and 12 hits in 12 innings.

–Field Level Media

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