Coming off their best performance of the season away from home, the Kansas City Royals will try to win their first road series when they close out a three-game set against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday at Safeco Field.
The Royals (8-16) scored a season high for runs away from Kauffman Stadium in Saturday’s 8-3 win, evening this series and improving to 4-9 on the road for the year. They effectively put the game away early, with six runs in the first inning.
Kansas City amassed 12 hits - three of them by Mark Grudzielanek - to raise its road batting average to .234 on the season. The Royals also went 5-for-14 with runners in scoring position after going just 2-for-23 to lose its previous two games.
Grudzielanek is hitting .400 (8-for-20) with three doubles in his last four games to raise his average to .282.
“Sometimes we tend to over swing and get outside our abilities,” manager Buddy Bell told the Royals’ official Web site. “They try to do more than the actual team needs. I’ve been there before. We’ve all been there. Maybe I wish I didn’t understand it as well as I do.”
After snapping the Mariners’ four-game winning streak, Kansas City will try to take two of three at Seattle for the first time since 2001. The Royals can also finish their five-game road trip, which began with a two-game split at Minnesota, with a 3-2 record.
Seattle (9-10) , meanwhile, has lost four of its last five home games.
Jose Vidro and Raul Ibanez each went 3-for-5 on Saturday, and Ichiro Suzuki drove in two runs for Seattle, which had 13 hits for the second straight night but went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
Vidro has a .434 (23-for-53) average during his current 12-game hitting streak.
While Vidro is heating up, first baseman Richie Sexson went 0-for-5 Saturday and is 1-for-30 in his last eight games to drop his average to .136.
“Richie is a streaky hitter,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove told the Mariners’ official Web site. “He also is a good hitter and a big run producer. He’s going to be OK.”
Sunday’s contest will feature two pitchers making their second start of the season.
Kansas City will hand the ball to Brian Bannister (0-0, 6.23 ERA). The right-hander allowed three earned runs and five hits in 4 1-3 innings, but did not earn a decision in the Royals’ 9-7 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday in his first start after being called up from the minors.
Bannister, whose only prior major league experience was eight appearances for the Mets last year, has never faced the Mariners.
Cha Seung Baek (0-0, 8.31) will take the mound for Seattle. The right-hander, who was called up from Triple-A Tacoma on Monday to make his season debut, allowed four runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings, but didn’t factor in the decision of Seattle’s 5-4 win at Texas.
Baek, who went 4-1 with a 3.67 ERA in six starts in 2006, allowed one hit in two innings of relief for a win in his only appearance against the Royals in August 2004.