Whit Merrifield hit the first pitch of the game from Felix Hernandez for his seventh home run, Mike Moustakas added his 24th homer of the season, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Seattle Mariners 7-3 on Tuesday for their fifth win in six games.
Kansas City knocked around Hernandez (3-3) for five earned runs in six innings. Merrifield set the tone jumping on an 89 mph pitch in the middle of the plate and clearing the wall in left-center. The Royals scored three times in the fourth inning thanks to Moustakas’ two-run shot and a two-out error by second baseman Robinson Cano that allowed Brandon Moss to score. Salvador Perez had a two-run double and the five earned runs were the most allowed by Hernandez in his eight starts this season.
Kansas City starter Danny Duffy (5-4) returned after spending a month on the disabled list and allowed just two first-inning runs.
Nelson Cruz had a two-run single off the wall in right-center field in the first inning – missing his first home run in a month by a matter of inches – but Duffy allowed just one other baserunner to reach third base pitching into the sixth. The lefty had been on the DL since late May with an oblique strain, but scattered five hits and struck out four.
Jean Segura had an RBI single in the seventh to pull within 6-3, helped along by first baseman Eric Hosmer’s throwing error that put runners on second and third with just one out. Reliever Peter Moylan got Danny Valencia to ground into a double play to end the threat, started by Merrifield’s lunging stop that kept the grounder from sneaking into the outfield.
Seattle has lost six straight at home.
Hernandez struck out five, becoming the 50th pitcher in Major League history to reach 2,300 strikeouts. It was the worst of his three starts since coming off the disabled list. Hernandez allowed six hits and walked four.
The Royals optioned RHP Miguel Almonte to clear a roster spot for Duffy’s return. Almonte threw one inning of relief on Saturday against the Twins in his second appearance of the season.
Royals: LHP Matt Strahm will receive a second opinion on his left knee injury on Thursday. Strahm was initially diagnosed as having a torn patellar tendon.
Mariners: Seattle has shut down RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (shoulder) for at least a week after experiencing additional discomfort in his shoulder following a bullpen session. Iwakuma received a cortisone shot and a PRP injection in the hope of alleviating some of the discomfort. Iwakuma has been on the DL since May 10.
Royals: Jason Vargas (12-2) goes for his AL-leading 13th win before heading off to the All-Star Game. Vargas leads the AL in wins and ERA (2.22) and has won his past seven starts.
Mariners: Ariel Miranda (7-4) makes his final start before the All-Star break. Miranda threw seven innings of two-hit ball in his last start and picked up his seventh victory.