Royals halt Mariners' win streak in 11th
Home crowd gets thrill with Brown's walk-off in extra frames
KANSAS CITY -- Streak? What streak?
"I didn't even know they'd won eight in a row," the Royals' David DeJesus said. "I had no clue."
This was just a half-hour after DeJesus scored in the 11th inning on Emil Brown's sacrifice fly to beat the Seattle Mariners, 3-2, on Monday night. That halted the Mariners' winning streak at eight games.
It was the beginning of the managerial era of John McLaren and the end of a streak that was achieved under former skipper Mike Hargrove.
Fortunately for the Royals, DeJesus wasn't clueless at the plate. He belted two doubles and a home run and scored all three of their runs.
DeJesus opened the 11th against rookie reliever Brandon Morrow with a line drive to right field. Jose Guillen came in, gaped, and let the ball get over his head.
"I just wanted to get some momentum going in that last inning," DeJesus said. "I hit it hard and saw him come running in, and I [said], 'All right, he's going to catch this.' Then he started to stop and jumped. I thought maybe I could get to third, but he got to the ball quickly."
DeJesus prudently pulled up at second base.
"The ball jumped off his bat like he was one of those power hitters," Guillen said. "I thought he would have 20 homers, 30 homers. It's amazing when I saw the ball jump off his bat. I should have gotten a better read on that ball."
Twenty or 30 homers indeed. Try five.
Maybe Guillen was fooled by DeJesus' at-bat in the third inning. DeJesus belted a home run over the right-field wall, but it was his first in 247 at-bats, or since April 25.
"That's a lot of at-bats. It's good to get one, and hopefully it won't take that long again," he said.
In the 11th, DeJesus was perched on second and Esteban German, sent up to bunt, walked instead. So Mark Teahen was given the bunt sign and he obliged nicely.
Up came Brown. He had not been able to get it done in the ninth inning as a pinch-hitter with the winning run at third. Sean Green struck him out.
Admittedly, Brown was a bit antsy.
"I just tried to stay relaxed, because in emotional situations when I do something I'm unhappy with, it kind of carries over a little bit," Brown said. "So I just try to calm myself down. I was just thinking, 'Just spread out and see if you can just make this ball get as deep as you possibly can.' "
That he did, splendidly.
Back, back, back went center fielder Ichiro Suzuki. Not that it made any difference but he caught the ball. DeJesus sprinted home after the catch for the Royals' first walk-off victory this season.
The Royals hadn't experienced walk-off whoopee since Aug. 9, 2006, against Boston. And they hadn't won an extra-inning game at Kauffman Stadium since Aug. 24, 2005, also against Boston.
The victory also eased one of manager Buddy Bell's chronic complaints this season -- the Royals' inability to get a run home from third base, especially with one or none out.
"The problem with a young team is a lot of times they don't understand the pitcher is the one in trouble," Bell observed.
The Royals were just 90 feet from winning the game in the ninth. German hustled to a double and Teahen lined a single to right field. German, fearing a Guillen catch, held up and couldn't get beyond third base.
Bell didn't fault German for his caution.
"First of all, he had to freeze on the ball because he was afraid Guillen was going to catch it," Bell said. "Also, Guillen's got the best arm in baseball."
That's when Brown struck out, and so did Alex Gordon. On to extra innings.
Gil Meche, the Royals' All-Star starter, had a tough first inning when after a walk and Raul Ibanez's double, Guillen singled in two runs. After that, though, there was nothing for the Mariners.
"I have a lot of confidence in Gil out there when he gives up a couple," Bell said. "Because he seldom gives up a lot. It was a typical Gil game."
This was the 10th time in 18 starts that Meche has held an opponent to two or fewer runs.
Meche's 6 1/3 innings was followed by bullpen zeroes -- 1 2/3 innings by Zack Greinke, two by Joakim Soria and one by Octavio Dotel.
Dotel struck out the side in the Mariners' 11th, but not before giving up two singles after the first strikeout. Ben Broussard looped a single and Kenji Johjima's hard shot bounced off shortstop Tony Pena Jr.'s glove.
Pena snatched the ball behind second base.
"I heard German yelling 'Two, two, two!' " Pena said. "So I thought I'd give it a shot."
Pena, moving toward center field, managed to get off a backward flip to German -- just a fraction late for a forceout. But Dotel struck out Adrian Beltre and Jose Lopez to end the inning.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.