KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Brady Singer pitched seven strong innings to lead the Kansas City Royals to a 5-1 victory over Seattle on Friday night, cutting the Mariners’ lead for the final AL wild-card spot to three games.
Playing without All-Star rookie center fielder Julio Rodriguez, the Mariners lost for the sixth time in eight games. Rodriguez was placed on the 10-day IL with a lower back strain shortly before the game.
“You never know whenever any time a player goes on the IL, is he going to be ready to go when he’s coming off there,” Seattle manager Scott Servias said. “After 10 days, all of our trainers and our medical people think he should be OK at that point. He does so much for our team, energy-wise, top of the lineup. He’s kind of leading the charge.”
With the Orioles’ 6-0 win over Houston, Seattle’s lead over Baltimore for the third wild-card spot shrank to three games. Both clubs have 12 games remaining in the regular season.
“We haven’t played great on this road trip, no question,” Servais said. “We won a couple of games when we came out and we scored; the other games we have not. It has been one run. You cannot win 1-0 on the road.”
The Mariners managed their lone run on Cal Raleigh’s 24th homer in the second. They have scored exactly one run in five of their last seven games, all losses.
“Not capitalizing offensively, that was the story of the game tonight,” Servais said. “We get the three leadoff doubles and we don’t score in those innings, which was huge. We should have done more offensively. We had a lot of chances, just didn’t do anything.”
Singer (10-4), who allowed five hits and struck out eight, has won his last six decisions, and Kansas City has won each of his nine starts dating to Aug. 9.
“I definitely didn’t have my best stuff there at the beginning of the game, but kind of figured it out throughout the outing,” Singer said. “It felt like every time at the beginning of an inning there was a guy on second base. I definitely had to work through some stuff tonight.”
Royals manager Mike Matheny said Singer continues to improve.
“It’s the confidence and stuff mix, he just keeps taking strides forward. He just keeps getting better,” Matheny said. “He’s passing every test you throw at him.”
Aided by two Seattle errors, the Royals grabbed a 2-1 lead with a pair of third-inning RBI singles by Nate Eaton and MJ Melendez.
Kansas City tacked on two more in the fifth, highlighted by Bobby Witt Jr.’s RBI double. Witt leads all major league rookies with 56 extra-base hits.
Marco Gonzales (10-15) allowed four runs, three earned, on eight hits over five innings. He has lost three straight decisions.
“We’ve run into some tough baseball, some tough breaks,” Gonzales said. “We’re hitting balls right at guys, and running into tough breaks in the field. Those things even out. Nothing to worry about.”
Vinnie Pasquantino had two hits and drove in two for the Royals, who have won four straight, their longest winning streak of the season.
“We’re treating these games like they’re important because they are important,” Pasquantino said. “We’re coming out to win very night and I think it’s showing. Just because we’re technically eliminated doesn’t mean we’re going to play like that on the field.”
Seattle recalled OF Taylor Trammell from Class AAA Tacoma.
Mariners RHP Logan Gilbert (13-6, 3.13 ERA) takes on Royals LHP Kris Bubic (2-13, 5.81).