A weeklong, West Coast rollercoaster for the Royals nearly ended in a plunge on Sunday, as starter Jeremy Guthrie allowed three home runs in a 9-7 victory.
The team escaped ahead thanks to a three-run homer in the seventh by second baseman Johnny Giavotella. But the hole was dug by Guthrie, who has given up 11 home runs this season, the most in the major leagues. Charged with seven runs, he left with two outs in the fifth.
“They just put good swings on everything I threw,” Guthrie said. “Every time I put a pitch in there, they seemed to make a big hit.
“I think, probably, at the end of the day, it was just a few missed locations and the wrong pitch sequences. Because otherwise, the pitches individually weren’t terrible. But collectively, they were pretty ugly.”
The frustration resulted because Guthrie couldn’t hold a four-run lead. He took the mound on Sunday five days removed from his finest effort of the year. He stymied San Diego for eight innings of one-run baseball on Tuesday. Seattle matched that total with one third-inning swing.
Guthrie hung a slider. Dustin Ackley deposited the baseball in the right-field seats. With his next pitch, Guthrie caught a piece of Stefen Romero’s jersey. Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon called for a hit-and-run, and when Mike Zunino threaded a grounder through the right side, there were runners at the corners.
Two batters later, both men scored. Brad Miller smoked a 3-2 fastball over the head of Nori Aoki for a two-run double. Guthrie escaped thanks to the height and reflexes of Eric Hosmer. He leaped to snag a liner off the bat of Robinson Cano and start an inning-ending double play.
The Royals cobbled together a run in the fourth, thanks to a walk, a hit and a pair of errors by Seattle. The advantage was still not enough.
“Jeremy went out and gave it everything he had,” manager Ned Yost said. “He just wasn’t sharp.”
Guthrie will always be prone to contact. He does not possess an arsenal that affords him the luxury of missing bats. He relies on his defense and the surrounding atmosphere.
Safeco Field is no hitter’s paradise. But the sky was clear and the air was filled with well-struck baseballs. In the fourth, Kyle Seager hooked a game-tying, two-run homer just inside the foul pole in right. The ball just cleared the fence above the 326-foot sign.
The reverberations of Safeco Field had just begun to settle when the Mariners took the lead. Ackley laced a curveball for a second solo shot.
“They were all over him,” Yost said.No progress for Chen
Bruce Chen (bulging disk) is not close to beginning a rehab assignment, Yost said. Danny Duffy will start in Chen’s place next Saturday against the Orioles.
Chen is limited to playing catch. His injury has lasted longer than Yost expected.