SURPRISE, Ariz. — Ervin Santana and five relievers combined on a four-hitter Wednesday afternoon as the Royals eased their way to a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Surprise Stadium.
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
Santana gave up one run and two hits in four innings before a bullpen relay of Everett Teaford, Nate Adcock, Donnie Joseph, Dan Wheeler and Aaron Crow yielded the same — one run and two hits — over the final five innings.
“Real good pitching,” manager Ned Yost said.
Xavier Nady broke a 2-2 tie with an RBI single in the sixth against Tom Wilhelmsen after Elliot Johnson opened the inning with a triple. Nady then left the game for pinch-runner Anthony Seratelli.
“He’s been battling plantar fasciitis,” Yost said. “He got the big hit, and then felt it again when he was on first.”
The Mariners took a 1-0 lead on Carlos Triunfel’s two-out homer in the third before the Royals struck for two runs in the fourth after Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma retired the first nine hitters — eight on infield grounders.
The Royals, 14-2-1, hit more grounders in the fourth but caught some luck. Alex Gordon’s leadoff single was a grounder off Triunfel’s glove at second. Gordon stole second and went to third on Kelly Shoppach’s throwing error.
Billy Butler tied the game with a ground single through the right side of a shortened infield. Mike Moustakas followed with another ground single before Salvy Perez flicked an RBI single into center for a 2-1 lead.
Seattle tied the game on Kyle Seager’s two-out RBI single in the sixth against Nate Adcock, but the Royals regained the lead on Nady’s single later in the inning.
The Royals pushed their lead to 4-2 in the seventh on David Lough’s RBI double.
Royals starter Ervin Santana struck out seven in his four innings, while yielding one run and two hits. He didn’t walk anyone while throwing 35 of 53 pitches for strikes.
So, pretty simple strategy, right? Just don’t let them hit it.
“It’s not that simple,” Santana said. “The good thing is I was keeping the ball down. I was working on my off-speed (pitches). I threw a lot of sliders today.”
Santana went to the bullpen for another simulated inning to boost his pitch count past 60.
Lefty Donnie Joseph turned in another scoreless inning his bid to win a bullpen job. He has allowed one run and two hits in six one-inning appearances. He has 11 strikeouts and no walks.
Veteran right-hander Dan Wheeler also produced his sixth scoreless one-inning outing. He gave up a single but recorded three strikeouts; he has 11 strikeouts and one walk.
Billy Butler tied Max Ramirez for the club lead with 12 RBIs by shooting a single through the right side of the infield on an 0-2 count against Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma in the fourth inning.
“I had two chances, with no strikes and one strikes to get the guy in with the infield back,” Butler said. “With two strikes, you’re just trying to battle.”
The top four starters in the Royals’ projected rotation — James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie and Wade Davis — have a combined 27 strikeouts and one walk in 242/3 innings.
The pregame decision to release pitcher Guillermo Moscoso leaves 51 players on the active big-league camp roster. That includes six players still competing in the World Baseball Classic.
Third baseman Mike Moustakas returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s 6-3 loss to Oakland because of a bruised right foot suffered Sunday on a foul ball.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar continues to recover from spasms in his lower back but should return by the weekend.
“He hit second base wrong (Sunday) going from first to third,” manager Ned Yost said. “It jarred him and got him out of alignment. The chiropractor worked on him (Tuesday). He should be symptom-free (Thursday) and be able to go the next day.”
Utilityman Elliot Johnson started at shortstop.
The Royals realigned their pitching plans to get another look at Yordano Ventura and to keep the Chicago White Sox from getting a read on James Shields.
Ventura will start Friday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Glendale in the concluding game of a split-squad, day/night doubleheader. Will Smith will start the afternoon game against San Diego in Surprise.
The Royals created a slot for Ventura by shifting Wade Davis to a minor-league game. Davis skipped his last turn through the cycle because of inflammation behind his shoulder.
Ventura worked seven scoreless innings in his last three appearances while allowing just one hit. He struck out five and walked two.
Shields is shifting to a minor-league game Sunday rather than face the White Sox at Surprise Stadium. He is slotted for the season opener April 1 against them in Chicago. Luis Mendoza will start in Shields’ place.
The Royals make the 18-mile trip south to Goodyear for third time in 17 days for Thursday’s game against the Cleveland Indians. Right-hander Jeremy Guthrie is scheduled for four innings or 60 pitches.
Officially, it will be Guthrie’s second spring start, but he worked three innings last Friday against Colorado before the game was canceled because of rain.
J.C. Gutierrez is also slotted to pitch and might need a strong outing to aid his bid for a bullpen job after yielding four runs and eight hits over three innings in his last three appearances.
Royals (RHP Jeremy Guthrie) vs. Indians (RHP Zach McAllister), at 3:05 p.m. Central time in Goodyear, Ariz.
“I’m in the stats! For all the fans (wondering), I’m still here.”
— Left-handed pitcher Everett Teaford, after making his spring debut with a one-two-three inning.
Countdown to Opening Day: 18 days