Dairon Blanco’s squeeze bunt gives the Royals a wild 7-6 win over the Mariners
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Dairon Blanco executed a suicide squeeze bunt in the ninth inning to score pinch-runner Samad Taylor, and the Kansas City Royals rallied after blowing a 5-0 lead to hand the playoff-contending Seattle Mariners their third straight loss, 7-6 on Monday night.
“That’s how we drew it up,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro deadpanned. “He’s gotten bunts down in big spots. That guy (Matt Brash) was throwing 100 miles per hour. That’s not easy to do.”
Brady Singer took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, Bobby Witt Jr. hit the Royals’ first inside-the-park homer in four years and Salvador Perez hit a three-run shot to build the Royals’ big lead.
“Everything felt good,” Singer said. “I was able to work up in the zone. All the pitches were working.
“I knew (about a no-hitter), but you never think it’s going to happen. So you just go out there and try to make pitches. What happens, happens.”
So much happened in the final two innings that Singer’s effort was almost for naught.
Julio Rodríguez hit a bases-clearing double in the eighth to get the Mariners within 5-3, then scored on a single by Eugenio Suárez. In the ninth, Josh Rojas tied it with a run-scoring single against Nick Wittgren (1-0), and Rodríguez’s RBI single put the Mariners on top.
But Brash (8-4) immediately ran into trouble in the ninth. He gave up consecutive singles and Perez tied the game with a sacrifice fly. Blanco then bunted Brash’s first pitch down the first-base line, and first baseman Dylan Moore couldn’t handle it cleanly as Taylor dashed home with the game-ending run.
“It was a heck of a comeback by our guys, really down and out and didn’t have a whole lot going offensively,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “But our guys don’t quit. It’s a testament to them and they find a way to get ahead and get the lead. But then (the Royals) came back that’s a big hit there at the end to obviously pull it out.”
The Mariners (63-55), coming off back-to-back extra-inning losses to Baltimore, fell two games behind Toronto for the final AL wild-card spot.
Maikel Garcia led off the bottom of the first with a single against Logan Gilbert, extending his hitting streak to 16 games, a Royals rookie record. Garcia advanced on Witt’s infield hit and Perez followed with a 429-foot homer to center, his 19th.
In the fifth, Witt hit a sharp line drive to right field. Dominic Canzone appeared to lose it in the lights and it sailed behind him. He had trouble picking it up at the wall, and the speedy Witt circled the bases in 14.3 seconds, the fourth-fastest home-to-home time since Statcast began in 2015.
“I thought (Canzone) caught it,” Witt said. “Then I saw the ball get past him. I was focused on (third base coach) Vance (Wilson).”
The Royals’ last inside-the-park home run was by Whit Merrifield against the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 9, 2019.
While Gilbert was struggling, Singer was cruising. He retired the first 14 batters he faced and only had one three-ball count before walking Cade Marlowe with two outs in the fifth.
Canzone singled with two outs in the seventh for the Mariners’ first hit. In the eighth, Singer gave up a one-out double to Mike Ford and hit Moore with a pitch, ending his night. Carlos Hernandez came on and allowed both runners to score while giving up two runs of his own.
Gilbert allowed four runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Royals: Reinstated OF Drew Waters from the bereavement list and optioned OF Edward Olivares to Triple-A Omaha. ... Claimed OF Bubba Thompson off waivers from Texas and optioned him to Omaha.
The four-game series continues Tuesday night with Mariners RHP Emerson Hancock (0-0, 1.80 ERA) making his second career start. Jordan Lyles (3-13, 6.13) starts for Kansas City.
For more Royals coverage, click here.
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.