Hisashi Iwakuma worked a perfect first three innings and Danny Hultzen returned from a two-week injury absence to notch a scoreless fourth, but the Mariners eked out just four hits and lost to the Kansas City Royals 4-2 Wednesday in Surprise. Since opening spring training with a 10-1 record (10 straight victories), the Mariners (11-7) have lost six of seven.
Ervin Santana struck out seven in four innings as the Royals improved to 14-2-1. Santana’s only mistake came when Carlos Triunfel lined a home run down the left-field line in the third inning.
Iwakuma had eight infield outs and had one strikeout, but the Royals reached him for two runs in the fourth. Alex Gordon led off with a single, stole second and scored on Billy Butler’s single. Butler scored on consecutive singles by Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez. That gave Kansas City a 2-1 lead and spelled the end of Iwakuma’s day.
In four Cactus League outings, Iwakuma has allowed three runs on seven hits in 10 innings in his bid to become Seattle’s No. 2 or No. 3 starter.
“He’s been good the entire spring,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “He threw the ball well all four innings. He missed a couple spots, but other than that he was really good. He’s been strong all spring, he’s been using all his pitches with good action on all of them, so we’re very pleased with what we’ve seen from Kuma.”
The Mariners couldn’t do much with Santana, hitting only two balls out of the infield, Triunfel’s homer and a double by Raul Ibanez.
The Mariners collected their second run in the sixth when a Kyle Seager single scored Robert Andino.
Kansas City snapped a 2-2 tie in the sixth on Elliot Johnson’s triple to right and Xavier Nady’s RBI single against Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen.
LHP Joe Saunders will make his second start when the Mariners host the Cincinnati Reds at 1:05 p.m. PT at Peoria Stadium Thursday.
Saunders, who signed a one-year deal as a free agent just before spring training opened, is scheduled to work four innings. Young RHP Brandon Maurer, making a strong showing as a 22-year-old prospect, is scheduled for four innings as well.
The Mariners also have a B game at 10 a.m. against the Reds in Goodyear, with James Paxton and Taijuan Walker slated for three innings each.