At least the flight home will be a little more fun.
After four consecutive games in which the Mariners played so poorly that their manager took them to task Saturday in a closed-door meeting, the Mariners rallied behind rookie right-hander Michael Pineda to score a 3-2 win in Kansas City Sunday.
Pineda threw six innings against the Royals, shutting Kansas Citys offense down on three hits and one run and waited long enough for the moribund Seattle offense to scrape together three runs against Royals lefty Jeff Francis.
At one point the radar gun speed reading on Kauffman Stadium scoreboard read 100 mph, and Pineda was consistently throwing 98-mph fastballs that were balanced out by his changeup. In addition, he threw some sliders, particularly to left-handed hitters, significant in that the Royals started six lefties against him.
“My slider (was) pretty good, too, Pineda said afterward. “I was working in the bullpen (to be ready to) face a lot of left-handed hitters. I threw a lot of fastballs in and changeups away.
For the most part, the Royals couldnt solve him. Kansas City did take a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning when Jeff Francoeur opened by getting a double over the head of Ichiro Suzuki in right field. He moved to third and then home on a couple of deep fly balls.
Afterward, Francoeur seemed impressed.
“We knew he threw hard and then we saw he had 99 (mph) on the second pitch of the game, Francoeur told the media. “We had to give ourselves a chance to swing the bats.
Eric Wedge, who roasted his players in Saturdays closed-door meeting, seemed to believe that for this one day, at least, the Mariners were playing closer to their abilities.
Ichiros double and Milton Bradleys triple, just the third and fourth Seattle hits off Francis, came just moments after the Royals had scored, getting the game tied in the fifth.
The seventh inning saw hits by Justin Smoak and Miguel Olivo get things started. Ryan Langerhans moved the runners up with a bunt and Brendan Ryan greeted reliever Blake Wood with a single that gave Seattle a lead it wouldnt give back.
“These were much better at-bats, Wedge said. “There were a lot of hard outs today, and when you do that you do that, you are talking about better at-bats.
“We executed in that inning where we scored the two runs with those two guys getting on and Langer getting the bunt down and Ryan getting the big hit.
After opening the season with back-to-back wins, Sunday saw the Mariners win for just the third time in the last 14 games.
“I think I can safely speak for everybody we’re not having fun right now, Ryan said. “Im not having any fun. This is not how I wanted to start out the season, personally and as a team. Were going to get better. Hopefully things will start falling and start going our way, because they havent.
Jamey Wright pitched two innings of relief, and while he walked the leadoff batter in both innings, he got out of the jam both times, although he needed the help of a blown call from first base umpire Marvin Hudson go get the job done in the eighth.
Brandon League closed it out, but not before giving up a couple of hits and a run, and Wilson Betemit was on second base as the tying run before League induced the final out.
NOTES: Closer David Aardsma is scheduled to start an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Tacoma Tuesday. Center fielder Franklin Gutierrez flew from Southern California to Seattle Saturday, and hell be checked out once again by the Mariner medics Monday and likely get referred to another stomach specialist. Gutierrez continues to have stomach issues and hasnt played in a game since March 19 in the middle of the Cactus League. Olivo was in an 0-for-27 slide before getting a sixth-inning single. Jack Wilson, who was 0-for-3 Sunday, hasnt had a hit in 14 at-bats since being reinstalled as the teams second baseman last Monday. Wright hasnt given up a run this year, either in the regular season or in the Cactus League.