The Mariners (63-77) squandered a 5-0 lead, trailed 6-5, came back to tie it on a Raul Ibanez homer in the ninth, then did what they have a remarkable knack for doing: Lose on a walk-off hit. Just recalled from AAA Tacoma, Chance Ruffin served a fat one and Mike Moustakas parked it in the right-field seats for a 7-6, 13-inning Kansas City win Thursday at Kauffman Stadium.
The game lasted four hours and 17 minutes and featured 43 players, including 14 pitchers who combined to allow 30 hits, 19 by the Royals, who took the series 3-1. The Mariners finished the eight-game road trip 4-4 and would have done a lot better if they had been able to convert just a tad of their offensive opportunities.
Seattle, suffering its 11th walk-off defeat and 23rd loss in an opponents’ final at-bat, finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. In the last six games of the road trip, they went 5-for-49 (.102 BA). The Mariners squandered a number of those chances in extra innings Thursday.
After Ibanez clouted his 26th homer to tie the game at 6-6, the Mariners put two aboard in the 11th with one out when Dustin Ackley singled and Nick Franklin walked. But reliever Kelvin Herrera whiffed Franklin Gutierrez (on a 101 mph fastball) and Mike Zunino.
The Mariners had another chance in the 12th when, with two outs, Kyle Seager doubled. But Kendrys Morales bounced to third. In the 13th, Justin Smoak singled and Ackley sacrificed pinch runner Endy Chavez, but Franklin flew to left and Gutierrez grounded out.
Before deciding the game, Moustakas oled a shot into the seats along the right-field line that just went foul. On an 0-2 when Moustaas should have been chasing, Ruffin served one directly into his wheelhouse.
Events would have never gotten that far if Seattle starter Joe Saunders hadn’t unraveled in the fifth. With a 5-0 lead, he gave up a double, a two-run homer, three singles, a walk and a stolen base. All that led to three runs and Saunders’ banishment.
“We popped it out 5-0, but Joe made it tough for himself in the fifth,” said manager Eric Wedge. “You never like to take the ball from your starter in the fifth inning, but he didn’t give us an opportunity to leave him in there.”
The Royals tallied three in the seventh to take the lead, setting the stage for Ibanez to send it into extra innings in the ninth.
The Royals received two remarkable batting performances. Billy Butler went 5-for-5 with an RBI before he was lifted for a pinch runner in the ninth, and Emlio Bonifacio went 4-for-6 and scored twice.
Four Mariners — Seager, Morales, Smoak and Ackley –produced multi-hit games, but Seattle couldn’t get timely hits. The Mariners have lost 24 games this season by one run and are 6-12 in extra innings.
The Mariners put a three-spot on the board in the first on Morales’ RBI single (scored Abraham Almonte, who doubled) and Smoak’s two-run homer, his 15th, and added another run in the third on Smoak’s sacrifice fly and an error by Eric Hosmer that allowed Seager to score.
Brad Miller followed with a sacrifice fly in the fifth that plated Michael Saunders, who opened with a double and advanced to third on a Henry Blanco ground ball.
The Royals cut into the lead in the fifth, getting two back on Alex Gordon’s two-run homer and another on Salvadore Perez’s RBI single.
Brandon Maurer, who replaced Saunders, escaped a jam in but wasn’t as fortunate in the seventh. After Bonifacio singled to center, Hosmer doubled off the wall in center on a ball Almonte lost in the sun. That pulled the Royals within 5-4, and they tied it when Butler shot a grounder through the right side, scoring Hosmer.
Brett Hayes then doubled — Kansas City’s fourth consecutive hit of the inning — giving the Royals runners at second and third with no outs. That did it for Maurer, who gave way to Charlie Furbush, who gave up a sacrifice fly to Maxwell, giving the Royals a 6-5 edge.
Ibanez tied it in the ninth with two outs when he belted his 26th long ball. It marked Seattle’s first hit — and run — since the fourth inning.
ARMS: Saunders lasted 4.2 innings, allowing three earned runs on 11 hits with three strikeouts and walk. He threw 103 pitches, 61 for strikes. He entered the game 4-0, 2.81 all time against the Royals.
BATS: With 26 home runs, Ibanez needs three to tie Ted Williams (29 in 1960) for most homers hit in a season by a 41-year-old. The pinch homer was Seattle’s third of the season and first since Morales June 23 vs. Oakland . . . The Mariners have hit 52 homers in the seventh inning or later, third highest in the majors.
QUOTES: “I thought we generally pitched well, but the solo shot today got us in the end. We had the 5-0 lead, but we missed some opportunities to break it open” — Wedge, Seattle
NOTES: The Mariners are going to push back Felix Hernandez’s next start from Sunday to Wednesday. That will allow him eight days rest since he suffered back cramps on Labor Day. Erasmo Ramirez will start Sunday and Taijuan Walker will go Tuesday in his Safeco Field debut and, probably, his final start of the season . . . Michael Saunders returned to the lineup Thursday after missing two games . . . When Kendrys Morales hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning Wednesday, it snapped the longest homer drought of his career at 109 at-bats. His previous longest, 78 at-bats, came earlier this season, May 31-June 22.
NEXT: The Mariners return to Safeco Field to begin a six-game home stand against Tampa Bay (Friday-Sunday) and Houston that will end a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6, 2.92) will pitch against the Rays Friday opposite RHP Alex Cobb (8-3, 2.82). Following the home stand, the Mariners will embark upon their final road trip of the season, to St. Louis, Detroit and Anaheim (10 games).