By Larry LaRue The News Tribune
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Seattle Mariners got a second-half surge officially underway Tuesday — winning a second game in a row for the first time in more than a month.
Hey, it’s something.
Matched again with Kansas City, the Mariners put up another nine runs, using home runs by Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders and a bases loaded double by Kyle Seager to win, 9-6.
All that offense helped Blake Beavan win his first start since June 10, and ruin the major league debut of Lake Stevens High grad Ryan Verdugo. The left-hander (0-1) yielded six runs on eight hits and two walks in 1 2 ⁄ 3 innings.
“I got those first two outs and I was trying to take a deep breath,” Verdugo said. “The game is different up here. It’s much quicker.
“I left the ball up a little. I might have been a little too amped up. I was nervous on the drive up here, but it didn’t really affect me,” Verdugo added. “I just really didn’t execute pitches too well. I just left a few pitches up and they took advantage. I know I still have to go out and execute.”
While the Mariners jumped all over Verdugo, they had a bit of a scare once Beavan’s day was done.
Reliever Charlie Furbush left after throwing two pitches because of tricep tenderness — and Eric Wedge had to scramble his bullpen to hold off the Royals.
“The second pitch I felt something that wasn’t quite right,” Furbush said. “It didn’t scare me. It wasn’t like in ’08, when I knew something was wrong and wound up having ‘Tommy John’ surgery.
“I came in, passed all the tests they gave me and then threw another 15 pitches in the (batting) cage. I felt fine. It was only on that one pitch.”
Still, Beavan had exited the game in the seventh inning after Kansas City put men on second and third base with no one out. When Wedge called on Furbush, it wasn’t to throw two pitches.
“I was thinking he’d face six or seven hitters,” Wedge said. “It didn’t work out that way.”
Kansas City scored three times that inning to close to 9-6 before rookie Lucas Luetge got a ground ball double play, then worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
“Lucas really stepped up for us,” Wedge said.
Those nine runs, however, were the difference between winning and losing, and as they’d done a night earlier, the Mariners came out swinging.
Casper Wells singled with two outs, Jesus Montero doubled him home and Justin Smoak homered for the second night in a row, his 13th of the year.
“You want to put us on the board early, because we know those guys can score,” Smoak said. “I laid off a changeup that was down and got a fastball up, middle-in. I’m swinging at pitches I should be hitting and hitting them.”
Like Smoak — like most of his teammates — Montero had been struggling at the plate.
“The last couple of weeks, it was getting pretty crazy,” Montero said. “I’m trying to be calm and it’s hard. I want to do well in every at-bat. The last two nights, I’ve been not swinging at bad pitches and hitting good ones.”
Seattle’s lineup produced 14 hits against six Royals pitchers. Montero had three, Dustin Ackley, Miguel Olivo and Saunders two each.
Seager, who has one hit in two nights when the Mariners have combined for 18 runs, made his a big one — a two-out, bases loaded double in the second inning that put Beavan ahead, 6-0.
The RBI were his 55th and 56th, and gave him 31 two-out RBI this season.
“I came up with the bases loaded and (Ryan) Verdugo struggling to throw strikes,” Seager said. “I knew he’d try to throw strikes — what else can he do in that situation — and I wanted to be aggressive.”
Seattle scored again in the fifth inning, the runs that put them far enough ahead to win.
Olivo singled and Saunders homered to straightaway center field, a shot estimated at 421 feet that left Kauffman Stadium as if out-running the devil.
“Crushed,” Wedge said. No one argued.
Brendan Ryan walked, then scored on a Ackley triple — Ackley’s fifth hit in the past two nights.
Then the Mariners needed outs.
Beavan got them through the sixth, Shawn Kelley and Luetge through the seventh and eighth and then Tom Wilhelmsen ho-hummed through another 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Take the big guy for granted? Hard not to: His eighth save came on a night when he extended his consecutive scoreless inning streak to 23 innings — the second longest by a Seattle reliever in franchise history.
That streak covers his past 19 appearances and began May 25. Since then, nothing.
There was no champagne shower after this one, but one of only three teams in the American League with a losing record, the Mariners now have the most wins (39) — just ahead of Kansas City and Minnesota.
Hey, it’s something.
The Mariners also retained their split-personality 2012. They lead the league in runs scored on the road, and have the fewest runs in the league playing at home.
Now 39-53, this team is 22-26 away from Safeco Field.
The hope on this trip is to stay hot enough on the road that when they return to face the New York Yankees Monday at home, the Mariners will stay on a roll.
It hasn’t worked yet this season, but getting hot enough to win two games in a row for the first time since June 16-17?
Hey, it’s something.
Associated Press contributed to this report.