Elias, Zunino lead Mariners over Royals for sweep
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Fernando Rodney was good for another dozen pitches and the Seattle Mariners were good for a sweep.
Rodney, working for the fourth straight day, earned his 21st save in 23 chances as the Mariners defeated the Kansas City Royals 2-1 on Sunday for a three-game sweep.
Rodney, who had thrown 46 pitches in the previous three days, got saves in all three games at Kansas City. He last got into four consecutive games on May 27-30, 2013, for Tampa Bay.
“It was no problem,” Rodney said. “I said I feel ready. I got warmed up and felt good, felt loose. That’s why I’m a reliever.”
“Sometimes early in the season you have a little problem with getting loose. When the weather warms up it helps get me a little more loose,” he said.
Rodney dispatched the Royals on 12 pitches, giving up a two-out single to pinch-hitter Mike Moustakas before striking out Pedro Ciriaco to preserve the one-run lead.
“It’s simple,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said on summoning Rodney once again. “I had a talk with him and he felt good. He’s worked very, very efficiently, and he was very efficient today as well. He has not thrown a lot of pitches. He’s definitely off tomorrow. He asked me if he could go to the Dominican, but I told him no.”
Rookie Roenis Elias pitched neatly into the seventh inning and Mike Zunino homered for the Mariners, who have won 18 of their past 26 road games.
After winning 10 straight to move into first place in the AL Central, the Royals have dropped four in a row, three of them by 2-1 scores.
“We’re playing fine, but just an offensive down turn a little bit,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “You go through the ups and downs. A four-game losing streak right when you had put together a nice 10-game winning streak, it’s tough.”
Elias (7-5), a 25-year-old left-hander from Cuba, limited the Royals to one run and five singles over 6 2-3 innings. He struck out five, walked two and improved to 4-1 in June.
“Everything was working,” Elias said through a translator.
Zunino hit his ninth home run, tops among AL catchers. He connected off Yordano Ventura (5-6) leading off the seventh to break a 1-all tie.
“Even though things aren’t going our way right now, I think we’re playing really good,” Ventura said with teammate Bruce Chen acting as interpreter.
Zunino led off the fifth with a double and scored on Willie Bloomquist’s two-out double.
“We stepped up to the challenge and were able take three from them,” Bloomquist said. “It shows what we’re able to do when we play well. Those guys are a very, very good baseball team. Granted, a bounce here or there and it could have come out differently.”
Ventura (5-6) had won his previous three starts.
“He hung a breaking pretty good (to Zunino),” Yost said. “Outside of that, he pitched a great ball game. Anytime you go seven innings and give up two runs you give your team a chance to win a game that’s a great job.”
The Royals scored their run in the second, which Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez opened with singles. Justin Maxwell’s sacrifice fly brought home Gordon.
Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar left in the seventh with a bruised left shin. He was hit in the second by a pitch. X-rays were negative.
The Mariners won a challenge in the seventh when Ciriaco was ruled safe at first for a bunt single. After a reliever that took over 3 minutes, the call was overturned and Ciriaco was out.
NOTES: Royals 3B Danny Valencia, who missed 19 games with a muscle strain in his left hand, was activated from the disabled list. He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. The Royals optioned RHP Louis Coleman to Triple-A Omaha as they opted to go with a 12-man staff. ... Mariners ace RHP Felix Hernandez, who starts Monday at home against Boston, is 4-1 with a 1.33 ERA in his past seven starts. The lone loss was 1-0 on June 18 at Texas when he allowed three hits, walked none and struck out 10. ... Seattle starters have allowed one run or less in nine of their past 10 games for a 1.50 ERA in that stretch.