Seattle hitters continued to make it look too easy for Major League starting pitchers Friday night in Kansas City.
The Mariners have done reasonably well against bullpens, including Friday when they scored four runs combined in the eighth and ninth innings.
For the first seven, however, the Mariner hitters once again did nothing the 14 pitchers who have started against Seattle have combined for a 2.01 ERA in those games and Seattle starting pitcher Erik Bedard got knocked around again.
The end result was a 6-5 loss to the Royals, a game that was nowhere near as competitive as the final score would indicate.
Seattle (4-10) scored three times in the ninth to close the gap, and Chone Figgins bid for a game-tying hit turned out to be a hard liner that died in the glove of Kansas City third baseman Mike Aviles.
To that point, the Mariners had received four walks, a Michael Saunders RBI single and a run-scoring RBI grounder from Ichiro Suzuki in the ninth inning, meaning Seattle has almost as many base runners in the ninth inning (five) as they did in the first eight innings (six).
Much as left-hander Bruce Chen did Thursday, Luke Hochevar threw the pitches he wanted and the Mariners went after them meekly. Ichiro, who had the only hit off Hochevar, doubled and scored on a Jack Cust grounder in the first. From the third through the seventh, Seattle didnt get a single man on base.
“When you are trying to work through a stretch like were going through offensively, its normal to try and do too much, manager Eric Wedge said. “Thats OK. I dont want our guys to get too passive.
“We are not on the right side of things right now. When we get pitches to hit, we cant miss. We are either a tad passive at times or were not squaring the ball up.
Hochevar, a right-hander with mediocre credentials (1-1 and a 5.30 ERA), dominated the Mariners by setting down the final 16 batters he faced as the Royals built up a 6-1 lead, most of that against Bedard, who continues to struggle during his first outings since the middle of the 2009 season.
Bedard didnt have a clean inning, and the damage could have been worse after the first four Kansas City hitters reached base. The Royals had a run in, the bases loaded and no one out, but Bedard rallied by getting a pop fly and a couple of strikeouts.
“I think he threw the ball well, Wedge said of Bedard. “He has a good arm. (But) Erik is a work in progress in regards to him being back on the mound. Im pleased with his stuff. He needs to take steps (forward).
A two-run homer by Jeff Francoeur in the third and a solo shot by Matt Treanor in the fifth kept putting distance between the Royals and the Mariners. By the time Hochevar was replaced after seven innings, things looked grim at 6-1.
A Luis Rodriguez double with one out in the eighth finally got Seattle another base runner, and Ichiros second hit of the game he now has 10 consecutive multiple hit games in Kansas City, a Kauffman Stadium record made it 6-2.
Lefty Tim Collins opened the ninth by walking two men, and that brought on closer Joakim Soria, who got a quick strikeout of slumping Miguel Olivo before Saunders singled to bring home Seattles third run.
Soria then lost his control, too, walking Rodriguez to load the bases and pinch hitter Justin Smoak to make it 6-4. Ichiros grounder was the second out but brought home another run before Figgins’ liner was snagged by Aviles.