Monday, June 23, 2014
Sports News

Zunino swats Mariners past Royals

Send a link to a friend  Share

[June 23, 2014]  KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Catcher Mike Zunino got what he wanted, a mistake pitch from right-hander Yordano Ventura and he made Ventura pay for it.

Zunino homered to break a tie and Roenis Elias logged a quality start as the Seattle Mariners topped the Kansas City Royals 2-1 Sunday to sweep a weekend series.

Zunino's seventh inning leadoff homer off Ventura put the Mariners ahead to stay.

"You have to pick one and be on time, or be early," Zunino said. "He has electric stuff. You hope to get him down and hope he makes a mistake over the plate. You have to look for a fastball, but I saw it sort of pop out of his hand and I was able to barrel it up."

Ventura (5-6), who's fastball frequently hits triple digits on the radar gun, was pulled after seven innings. He gave up two runs on six hits, while striking out six and walking two.

"The pitch he wants back I think is the curveball to Zunino," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He hung a breaking ball there and Zunino jumped on it. He hung it pretty good. 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."

Said Ventura, "The curveball was a really good pitch for me today, after my fastball. I tried to throw a curveball to strike him out but he put a good swing on it and he hit it out."

Elias (7-5) was replaced by Yoervis Medina with two outs in the seventh. He limited the Royals to one run on five singles, while striking out five and walking two.

Right-hander Fernando Rodney worked a perfect ninth to earn his 21st save. Rodney picked up saves in all three games this weekend at Kauffman Stadium.

Ventura (5-6) was pulled after seven innings. He gave up two runs on six hits, while striking out six and walking two.

Pedro Ciriaco replaced Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar after six innings. Escobar suffered a left shin contusion after being struck by an Elias pitch in the second inning and X-rays were negative.

Left fielder Alex Gordon and catcher Salvador Perez led off the Royals' second with singles as Kansas City manufactured its only run. Gordon took third on third baseman Danny Valencia's fly out to center and scored on right fielder's Justin Maxwell's sacrifice fly to center fielder James Jones.

The Mariners tied the game in the fifth inning. Zunino began the rally by drilling a double to left. After Ventura retired the next two batters on fly balls to center fielder Lorenzo Cain, second baseman Willie Bloomquist doubled down the right-field line to score Zunino. Bloomquist's third inning double was the only hit Ventura allowed in the first four innings.

[to top of second column]

It was a pitcher's duel between two of the top rookie arms in the American League. Ventura's fastball registered 100 mph on the scoreboard radar gun when second baseman Robinson Cano went down swinging in the fourth inning. In the 90-degree plus heat, Elias matched him before departing.

"Everything was working," Elias said with bullpen coach Mike Rojas acting as an interpreter. "The sun is the same here as it is in Cuba. I have no problem with the heat."

The Royals have lost four in a row after having their 10-game winning streak halted on Thursday.

"It's tough and frustrating as well," center fielder Lorenzo Cain said. "This game will humble you in a heartbeat. We've got to keep our heads up and keeping fighting. We can get hot again."

NOTES: Valencia, who went on the disabled list June 1 with a left hand injury, was activated Sunday and started at 3B. He went 3-for-11 with a home run in three rehab games with Triple-A Omaha. ... The Royals optioned RHP Louis Coleman to the Storm Chasers. Without Coleman, the Royals will carry a seven-man bullpen. ... The Mariners have not allowed an unearned run since May 11. ... Cain batted leadoff for the first time this season. ... The Mariners have three players -- 1B Justin Smoak, DH Corey Hart and OF Michael Saunders -- rehabbing with Triple-A Tacoma. In a Saturday night 4-3 victory over Oklahoma City, Saunders homered and is hitting .571 in two games, Hart went 1-for-4 in his initial rehab game, while Smoak went 2-for-3 with a double.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

< Sports index

Back to top