Royals 8, Mariners 3

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SEATTLE (AP)—Gil Meche’s return to Seattle wasn’t spectacular. It didn’t need to be, thanks to Jeff Weaver.

Compared to Weaver, Meche suddenly looked quite appealing to Mariners’ fans that use to lament him.

By the time Meche took the mound, all the pressure surrounding his return was gone, thanks to a horrific first inning by Weaver in Kansas City’s 8-3 win over Seattle on Saturday night.

Weaver lost his fourth decision in as many starts, giving up six runs, seven hits and recording just one out before manager Mike Hargrove pulled him in the top of the first inning.

The performance may have cemented Weaver’s removal from the Mariners’ rotation. Neither Hargrove or Weaver would comment about it after the game.

“I am really not going to talk about what I’m going to do or not going to do with Jeff,” Hargrove said. “Tonight was not a good outing for him. He feels worse than anybody else. We’ve got to try and help him get back in line.”

Signed for $8.325 million in the offseason, Weaver (0-4) surrendered five consecutive hits to start the game. Ross Gload capped the streak with a two-run double that gave the Royals a 3-0 lead.

Emil Brown then grounded out to short, which brought home another run and a round of sarcastic cheers from the fans. After another single and a walk, Tony Pena Jr. ended Weaver’s misery with a soft liner into right-center field that scored two more.

“It’s on me. I’ll take it as a man and face up to the responsibilities of going out there and working deep into the game. I haven’t done that and there are going to be questions throughout,” Weaver said. “It’s my job to continue to believe in myself, stay confident and work through this. It’s tough for everybody, the team, myself, the fans.”

The 6-0 cushion was plenty for Meche, who spent his entire career with Seattle before signing a five-year, $55 million deal with the Royals.

“I wasn’t real sharp. They got a lot of balls to hit. I was just fortunate enough to stay out of some big innings,” Meche said. “The six runs were definitely key.”

Meche (2-1), who won 55 games with Seattle, wasn’t overpowering, giving up 10 hits—at least one every inning—and allowing three unearned runs.

But he struck out five, walked two, and escaped the fifth inning despite loading the bases with two outs. After walking Kenji Johjima, Meche got Yuniesky Betancourt to ground to second and end the inning.

Brandon Duckworth pitched the final three innings for his first career save.

“In terms of getting after it and doing what was needed it was probably his best grittiness all year,” Royals’ manager Buddy Bell said of Meche.

Weaver wasn’t hit hard—only one of the seven hits went for extra bases. But it was the shortest start of his career, and Seattle’s four-game win streak was snapped.

Weaver has never pitched well in April—he’s 12-25 in his career during the month—and this month is a new low. His ERA escalated to 18.26 ERA, and he has pitched more than three innings in one of his four starts. In 11 1-3 innings, Weaver has allowed 31 hits and 23 earned runs.

On Friday, Weaver said he believed he was improving, despite being pulled after three innings in his last start against the Angels. Instead, he turned in the shortest outing by a Seattle starter since Meche lasted two-thirds of an inning against the Yankees on May 14, 2004.

Mark Grudzielanek had three hits and an RBI, and every Royals starter had at least one hit.

“This is kind of how it started with me in Anaheim. I’m not sure if it’s trying to do too much, trying to impress too many people, trying to get everything fixed in one game. It’s hard to put your finger on it,” Weaver said. “I’m center of attention because of my struggles and that’s understandable.”

Notes

Meche picked up his first decision since April 7 when he lost to Detroit. He had no decision in his last two starts. His ERA dropped to 2.18. … RHP Sean White took over for Weaver and threw 3 2-3 innings, a career-high. His pitching line was full—two runs, two hits, four walks, two hit batters and two strikeouts. … Seattle DH Jose Vidro singled in his first two at-bats, extending his hitting streak to 12 games.

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