PEORIA, Ariz. — Cheeseburgers, fist bumps and smiles ruled inside the jovial Kansas City Royals clubhouse after Tuesday’s 11-6 win over the Seattle Mariners.
It’s almost as if the Royals don’t want camp to end. They kept up their prolific offensive production, and in so doing set a club record for spring training wins with 23.
For what it’s worth, Kansas City clinched finishing in first place in the Cactus League standings.
“The key to our success this year is going to be our pitching staff, because we can catch the ball,” manager Ned Yost said. “If they’re throwing strikes, we’re going to be able to make plays and I think we’re going to be able to score runs.”
“It just gives you confidence going into the season knowing that everybody’s ready, everybody’s playing well,” he said.
Kansas City entered the game leading the majors in team batting average, hits, doubles, runs scored and on-base percentage. The Royals recorded 18 hits against Seattle, including seven doubles.
All nine players in the starting lineup got at least one hit, with Brett Hayes getting four hits and driving in two runs.
Hayes boosted his case for the Royals’ backup catcher spot on the major league roster. He’s competing with George Kottaras for the job.
“Really swung the bat well and handled the pitchers nicely,” Yost said of Hayes, who played 39 games for the Marlins in 2012 and hit .202.
Miguel Tejada helped his cause for a utility infielder spot on the roster with his two doubles. He scored two runs, drove in two and started a double play.
“We’re getting down to the end, we’re going to have to make decisions, they’re going to be tough decisions,” Yost said.
The Mariners took a 4-1 lead against starter Sugar Ray Marimon, a minor leaguer.
Franklin Gutierrez, limited to only 40 games last season due to injury, drove in two runs with a double in the third.
Gutierrez also hit a solo home run in the seventh. Michael Morse homered two batters later over the 40-foot high batter’s eye in center field, a shot roughly 450 feet from home plate.
Morse is among the spring training leaders in home runs with seven.
Mariners starter Jeremy Bonderman, trying to make a comeback after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year and not pitching the last two seasons, ran into trouble in the fifth inning.
The Royals tagged him for six runs on seven hits in the inning. He gave up seven runs and 11 hits overall.
Bonderman remains in competition for one of two Seattle starting rotations spots among four pitchers.
“I was throwing the ball well and then gave up some hits, which kind of led to an extended inning. I was rolling along pretty good and then got smacked in the mouth,” he said.
“Definitely the wrong day to have it happen,” he said. “I’ll let them make the decision and see what happens.”
NOTES: Luis Mendoza, Wednesday’s starting pitcher for the Royals against Milwaukee, won the fifth spot in the starting rotation. The team said he’d beaten out Bruce Chen for the slot. Chen worked an inning in relief and loaded the bases with two hits and walk allowed, but escaped the sixth inning without giving up a run. … Mariners RHP Felix Hernandez is scheduled to start Wednesday, then pitch on opening day in Oakland on April 1.