SEATTLE — Despite the frustration of a 12-inning loss, the Royals generally came away from Sunday’s game feeling good about their performance.
Up until the ninth inning, it looked as if the game would mark another loss, chalked up to a lack of offense for Kansas City. Then Hunter Dozier sent the game into extras with a homer, Andrew Benintendi briefly gave the Royals the lead in the 10th with a pinch-hit RBI and Kansas City had the bases loaded with one out in the 12th.
The Royals couldn’t capitalize on that opportunity. Instead, Jesse Winker sent the T-Mobile Park crowd home happy with a game-winning single in the bottom of the 12th off reliever Joel Payamps, giving the Mariners a 5-4 win.
“It stings, but it’s over with, so let’s move on,” Benintendi said. “You know, it’s easier to fold in those situations than keep fighting. We’ve got a four-hour flight, it’s easy to roll over. It takes a lot to keep fighting. We didn’t get it done today, but hopefully we can next time.”
Kansas City, swept in the three-game series at Seattle, heads off to Chicago for a three-game set with the White Sox starting Tuesday. In both of the last two games, the Royals fought back from an early deficit only to lose in the end.
This was the fifth time this season the Royals scored more than three runs, and they’ve lost four of those games, including Saturday when Kansas City came back from four down to tie the game before eventually losing, 13-7.
“If they keep competing like that, the hits are going to come, the big innings are going to come,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “It’s just frustrating to have a couple like this.”
The Royals started the game in a two-run hole before recording an out. Starter Carlos Hernández gave up a single to leadoff batter Adam Frazier, followed by a two-run homer to Ty France. Hernández regrouped, retiring the next six batters. The only other hit he allowed through five innings was a single to France in the third, giving France eight hits in two games against the Royals. Seattle scored again when Hernández gave up back-to-back one-out doubles in the sixth inning to Eugenio Suárez and J.P. Crawford.
Hernandez has allowed three runs or more in all three of his starts this season, although this was the first time he’d pitched into the sixth inning. His four strikeouts were also a season high.
Salvador Perez, starting at designated hitter instead of his usual catcher a day after getting hit in the hand with a pitch and leaving the game, doubled in his first two at-bats. Perez and Cam Gallagher had run-scoring doubles in the third inning for the Royals, the only real offense Kansas City had until one out in the ninth. Dozier then launched a 1-0 pitch from Drew Steckenrider over the center-field wall to tie the game, 3-3.
The 419-foot homer was Dozier’s third of the season, and marked his third straight game with an extra-base hit after doubling in the opening two games of the series.
“I hit it good. I didn’t know it was going out, though,” Dozier said. “I was trying to get two or three out of it at least.”
Benintendi led off the 10th with his pinch-hit RBI, but was thrown out two batters later trying to take third on a pinch-hit single by Nicky Lopez.
Reliever Dylan Coleman loaded the bases in the bottom of the 11th before getting out of the jam, and then the Royals loaded the bases the next inning on walks to Michael A. Taylor and pinch-hitter Ryan O’Hearn before Whit Merrifield and Lopez struck out to end what would be the Royals’ last chance.
“It was a bummer. After Dozier’s homer, it would have been great to win that one, but we didn’t do enough to win,” said Merrifield, who was 1-for-6 with four strikeouts. “Baseball is a hard game. If we can keep putting ourselves in position to win games, we’ll be in good shape. Today just wasn’t meant to be for us, but we put ourselves in a position to win. And if we keep doing that, I think we’ll be pretty happy with where we’re at at the end of the year.”