The Seattle Mariners have rebounded from a late-July slump at the plate by putting up some big offensive numbers in early August.
That’s become an all too familiar sight for the Kansas City Royals, who have had a hard time stopping any team at home in the second half.
After matching their highest run total of the season, the Mariners look to continue their August surge Thursday night when they try to finish a three-game sweep of the Royals, losers of 10 of 11 at Kauffman Stadium since the All-Star break.
Seattle (56-51) averaged 2.6 runs and batted .224 over its last 10 games in July, going 4-6. The Mariners, though, haven’t had the same problem producing runs in August, averaging 6.75 and batting .333 while winning three of four.
Ichiro Suzuki(notes) had his major league-leading 52nd multihit game and Russell Branyan(notes) and Jose Lopez(notes) drove in three runs apiece to lead Seattle to an 11-6 victory over Kansas City on Wednesday night.
Everyone in the Mariners’ starting lineup hit safely and only two failed to score as the club recorded its highest run total since an 11-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on April 15.
“It was a nice win to get two in a row here and get back on track,” manager Don Wakamatsu said.
Branyan and Lopez have each totaled five RBIs in the first two games of the series. Lopez has driven in at least one run in seven straight games, totaling 13 during the streak.
The Mariners are the latest visiting team to have success at the plate at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals (41-66) have given up 6.64 runs per game while dropping 10 of 11 at home in the second half. They’ve given up 10 or more hits nine times in that stretch.
“This is the major leagues,” manager Trey Hillman said. “You’ve got to play like a major league team and in order to do that you’ve got to put your offense, your defense and your pitching all together and be more consistent than we’ve been able to be.”
Royals pitcher Bruce Chen(notes) (0-6, 5.73 ERA) hopes to stop the Mariners’ offensive surge as he tries again for his first win Thursday. The left-hander, who had elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2007, is 0-13 since his last major league victory Oct. 2, 2005.
Chen held Tampa Bay to three runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings Saturday but still suffered the 7-1 defeat.
“I’ve been dying to get a win. I really am,” he said. “I’ve been working really hard. I think I’m making progress. I felt like today I could have won, but I just got beat.”
Chen is 1-0 with a 3.54 ERA in five career games - four starts - against Seattle, which he hasn’t faced since April 15, 2007. Suzuki, who’s 8 for 20 with seven runs scored in August, is 7 for 13 (.538) with two walks lifetime against Chen.
The Mariners will counter with Jason Vargas(notes) (3-5, 4.71). Vargas, also a left-hander, hasn’t lasted more than five innings in any of his last five starts, going 0-3 with a 7.94 ERA in that stretch. He gave up five runs in five innings of his 5-4 loss at Texas on Friday.
Vargas has never faced the Royals.