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How key lineup spot fueled Kansas City Royals’ 8-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners

Kansas City Royals first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino didn’t need to look at the box score from Saturday’s 8-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

He already knew which teammates were the story of the game.

“The seven hole was hot today,” Pasquantino said with a smile. “That’s what we like to see. So yeah, it’s been good. Guys are putting together some really nice at-bats, and it’s working right now.”

The Royals got three hits from veteran duo Adam Frazier and Hunter Renfroe in that lineup spot. In the second inning, Frazier laced a solo home run into the right-field seats. He added a leadoff double in the fifth.

Afterward, Renfroe replaced him in the lineup. He continued the production by recording a hit of his own. In his last 13 games, Renfroe is hitting .317 (13-for-41) with seven doubles.

“They competed really well and had a good plan,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said.

KC needed the offense. On Saturday, the Royals collected nine hits with much of the run production coming from the bottom of the order.

Center fielder Kyle Isbel added a pivotal double. Meanwhile, Nick Loftin recorded two walks and an RBI single.

“It’s gonna win you a lot of games,” Pasquantino said. “Like I always say when playoff baseball comes around: That’s what wins playoff games, is what the bottom of the order does. And today they won us the game. Let’s keep it going.”

The Mariners (36-30) scored early against Royals starter Alec Marsh. He allowed four runs, including two homers to J.P. Crawford and Mitch Garver. Despite the uneven performance, Marsh was glad to work five innings and put his teammates in a position to win.

“You know, definitely not satisfied with that outing,” Marsh said. “I’m just happy we won, for sure. But there’s things I’ve got to do on my end a lot better.”

The Royals improved to 39-26 and won their third consecutive game. They have gone 3-1 to start a 12-game stretch against current first-place teams. Following Friday’s improbable comeback, KC will look to sweep Seattle on Sunday behind lefty ace Cole Ragans.

“It just shows what we have been doing all year. We are a very resilient team,” Loftin said. “You know, we just never quit regardless of what happens anymore. We go and control what we can control up there at the plate. And, you know, we’ve been playing some really great baseball.”

Here are more notables from Saturday’s game:

Royals cash in two free passes against Mariners

The Royals added some key insurance runs in the sixth inning — and they needed it.

KC clung to a 5-4 lead after reliever Sam Long cleaned up a bases-loaded jam in the top of the frame. Long struck out two batters, issued a walk and surrendered a sacrifice fly in his short relief appearance.

“He came in a really tough spot,” Quatraro said. “We tried to get a couple of more outs (from Marsh). It was only a few pitches and all of a sudden, it’s first and third and Sam’s got a lot of work to do. He held it right there.”

Despite the slim margin, the Royals needed more offense. It didn’t take long for Isbel to answer the call.

Isbel hit a two-run double as the Royals took a 7-4 lead. He drove home Loftin and designated hitter Nelson Velázquez, who each got aboard after working a pair of walks against Mariners reliever Kirby Snead.

“He’s been putting in a lot of work and I felt good about that particular matchup with him,” Quatraro said. “And it worked out. You know, very easily may not have, but it did today. And that is a credit to his approach there.”

Isbel finished 1-for-2 and recorded his 16th, 17th and 18th RBIs this season.

Alec Marsh sets season-high in strikeouts

Marsh fell behind early against the Mariners. In the first inning, Crawford ambushed him with a leadoff home run into the right-field seats.

However, the homer seemed to light a fuse. Marsh rebounded quickly and struck out eight of the next 12 batters.

“It didn’t start off really good,” Marsh said. “First pitch of the game, you’re not really expecting a home run. But the way I was able to bounce back from that was great. A lot of positive stuff.”

Marsh struck out Seattle quartet Julio Rodriguez, Cal Raleigh, Luke Raley and Mitch Garver in consecutive order.

“We faced them not too long ago, a couple of weeks ago,” Marsh said. “So it was good to just keep working on things that worked last time, and I thought they worked even better this time around.”

Marsh set a season-high with eight strikeouts en route to his fifth victory.

Next on the Royals schedule

The Royals finish their weekend series against the Mariners. On Sunday, Royals ace Cole Ragans will make his ninth home start this season. The southpaw has a 3.38 ERA in 42 2/3 innings at Kauffman Stadium.

The Mariners will start right-hander George Kirby. He owns a 4.05 ERA during the 2024 campaign. Kirby pitched seven scoreless innings against the Royals on May 13.