The Seattle Mariners’ first series under manager John McLaren hasn’t gone very well so far.
The Mariners will look to avoid being swept in Kansas City for the first time in more than 15 years Wednesday when they wrap up their three-game set with the Royals.
McLaren took over as Seattle’s manager after Mike Hargrove abruptly resigned from the position. The Mariners (45-35) rallied for a 2-1 win over Toronto on Sunday in Hargrove’s final game to cap an eight-game winning streak - their longest since 2003 - but have dropped the first two games of this series.
Seattle has not been swept by the Royals (36-48) since losing three games at home June 12-14, 1995. The Mariners were last swept in Kansas City June 5-7, 1992, when they also dropped three straight.
Seattle was pounded 17-3 on Tuesday, the most runs they have allowed this season. Starter Ryan Feierabend recorded only four outs and allowed 10 runs as the Royals matched season highs in runs and hits (16).
“We ran into a hot Kansas City baseball team,” McLaren said. “They’re playing well. They feel good about themselves.”
Kansas City’s Billy Butler homered and doubled and became the first rookie to drive in six runs this season. At 21 years and 76 days old, Butler became the youngest player with a six-RBI game in a game since Alex Rodriguez drove in six for Seattle on May 17, 1996, when he was 20 years, 295 days.
Still, Butler will probably be sent back to the minors when regular designated hitter Mike Sweeney comes off the disabled list.
“That’s the card that I’ve been dealt,” Butler told the Royals’ official team Web site. “I can’t do anything about that. I can only control what I do on the field. If that’s the case, that’s the case. I do what I can when I get my opportunities and I feel like I’ve done a good job.”
The Royals will try for the sweep Wednesday against Seattle starter Jarrod Washburn (7-6, 4.03 ERA), who went 2-2 with a 5.74 ERA in six June starts, raising his season ERA from 3.22. However, he won his second straight start on Friday, allowing two runs in six innings of a 5-3 victory over Toronto.
Washburn allowed nine hits - all singles - and didn’t strike anyone out, but he was pitching with a stiff back that flared up before the first pitch. He said his back didn’t get any worse as the game progressed.
The left-hander is 7-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 13 career starts against the Royals. He won after giving up three runs in seven innings of a 7-4 victory on Kansas City on May 27.
The Royals will counter with surprising young starter Brian Bannister (5-4, 3.58), who was one of only two pitchers, along with Milwaukee’s Ben Sheets, to win five games in June. He lost just once in six starts last month while posting a 2.75 ERA and earning AL rookie of the month honors.
Bannister gave up one run in 6 1-3 innings of Friday’s 8-1 win over the Chicago White Sox. He has been working on adding a slider to his repertoire, and it was effective against the White Sox.
“I’ve been working on it all year,” he said. “The lefties have a higher batting average against me. I’m trying to work on some stuff to balance some stuff out.”
Bannister has lost both of his starts against the Mariners, each of which came this season, allowing eight total runs in 13 2-3 innings.
He won’t have to face Seattle catcher Kenji Johjima, who left Tuesday’s game after being hit in the right wrist area by a pitch that glanced off Mark Teahen. The ball caused a contusion of Johjima’s right metacarpal and McLaren said he wouldn’t play in the series finale.
Jamie Burke replaced Johjima on Tuesday.
First baseman Richie Sexson, who left Monday’s game in the bottom of the ninth with a contusion of the left thumb, is expected to be out several days, but the Mariners don’t plan to put him on the disabled list.