Royals fall short of sweep
Offense can't overcome Bannister's first-inning struggles
KANSAS CITY -- Blazing fireworks one night, nothing but duds the next. That was the Independence Day story for the Royals -- on and off the field.
If the 27,497 fans came to see a repeat of the Royals' 17-run explosion, they were royally disappointed on Wednesday night as Jarrod Washburn and the Seattle Mariners snuffed them, 4-0.
And if the fans came to see a repeat of Tuesday night's marvelous fireworks display that celebrated a 17-3 rout, they were disappointed there, too. Afternoon rain dampened a generator needed to ignite the fireworks and it wouldn't work. Neither would an auxiliary power source.
Talk about fizzling out.
The Fourth of July fireworks display was canceled, but all fans can use rain checks to obtain a ticket to any Royals home game for the rest of the season.
It was one of those nights.
The whole difference was the Mariners' four-run first inning against rookie right-hander Brian Bannister.
"I don't know if it was the rain that got him riled up or maybe it might have been Ichiro [Suzuki], because he was rushing a little bit when he was on first," catcher John Buck said.
Bannister admitted a 15-minute delay in the game's start because of rain put him a bit on edge. Then, the pesky Ichiro opened the game with a single, just fair, that tied up third baseman Alex Gordon.
"You've got maybe the fastest guy in the game on base right off the bat," Bannister said, "and I didn't want him to get on base. My whole goal was to prevent him from setting the table for that team.
"I quickened up my delivery to keep him from going base to base and it just threw everything off."
It must have. Bannister walked Jose Vidro. Raul Ibanez pushed the runners over with a ground out and Jose Guillen belted an RBI single. Ben Broussard walked, Adrian Beltre socked a two-run double and Yuniesky Betancourt popped a single.
"I lost my timing a little bit and lost my release point. Really, I was trying to find it," Bannister said. "I got it back right at the end of the inning and got the double-play ball," he said.
When that was over, so was the scoring for the night. Bannister was superb over the next six innings.
He was coming off a marvelous period -- a 5-1 record during June.
"As far as his stuff and command, he's been good. But, after the first inning, I don't think he could be any better than he was," Bell said.
Too late, though, because Washburn was Mr. Impeccable all night.
"He was throwing that cutter in to righties and that slider to lefties. He didn't miss much over the plate," Buck said.
Washburn retired 13 straight batters in one span and gave up only five hits. Finally tiring in the ninth, he gave up a single to Esteban German and issued his only walk to Mark Teahen.
"If you're going well, you feel like you can go until you are out of gas. That's a great thing to have in your mind out there as a starter," Washburn said.
Out of gas, Washburn departed and J.J. Putz came in to notch his 24th save.
New Mariners manager John McLaren got his first victory after losing the first two games in Kansas City. He was rewarded with a bottle of champagne.
"This one is a extra special for Mac. I think everyone is a little pumped to get it out of the way," Washburn said.
Washburn loves it when the Mariners' tour stops in KC. He has a 6-1 career record at Kauffman Stadium.
Bannister, meanwhile, is now 0-3 against the Mariners in his 5-5 season.
"It's tough to lose to the same team three times," Bannister said. "It's really, really been frustrating."
So, on the Fourth of July, for the Royals it was no runs and for the fans it was no fireworks.
"We're used to everything not going quite right," Bell said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.